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NCJ Number: 51687 Find in a Library
Title: ROLE OF THE MAGISTRATE IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM (FROM MAGISTRATES' COURT 1976 - WHAT PROGRESS? CANBERRA, (AUSTRALIA), 26-28 NOVEMBER, 1976, 1978, SEE NCJ-51685)
Author(s): I CAMERON
Corporate Author: Australian Institute of Criminology
Australia
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 10
Sponsoring Agency: Australian Institute of Criminology
Canberra ACT, 2601, Australia
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: THE ROLE OF THE MAGISTRATE IN ADULT AND JUVENILE COURTS IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA IS DESCRIBED, A CRITICISM OF MAGISTRATE BIAS IS REPORTED, AND MISCELLANEOUS GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE MAGISTRACY IS PROVIDED.
Abstract: IT IS NOTED THAT THE SYSTEM OF COURTS IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA CONSISTS, IN DESCENDING ORDER, OF THE SUPREME COURT, THE DISTRICT CRIMINAL COURT, AND THE COURTS OF SUMMARY JURISDICTION CONSTITUTED BY A MAGISTRATE OR TWO JUSTICES OF THE PEACE. THE JUVENILE COURTS ARE CONSTITUTED BY A SPECIALLY APPOINTED DISTRICT CRIMINAL COURT JUDGE, MAGISTRATE, OR A JUSTICE OF THE PEACE. IT IS INDICATED THAT ALL JUVENILE COURTS OUTSIDE THE METROPOLITAN AREA HAVE BEEN CONSTITUTED BY ITINERANT OR CIRCUIT MAGISTRATES. THE ROLE OF THE MAGISTRATE IN THE ADULT CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IS REPORTED TO INCLUDE THE CONDUCTING OF PRELIMINARY INQUIRIES INTO SERIOUS CHARGES, WITH THE BULK OF PRELIMINARY INQUIRIES RESULTING IN TRIAL OR SENTENCE IN THE DISTRICT CRIMINAL COURT. ANY ALLEGED OFFENDER AGAINST WHOM THE PROSECUTION IN A MAGISTRATE COURT HAS MADE A PRIMA FACIE CASE IN A SERIOUS CHARGE HAS THE RIGHT TO ELECT TO BE TRIED IN THE APPROPRIATE HIGHER COURT. IF THE ALLEGED OFFENDER DOES NOT EXERCISE HIS RIGHT OF ELECTION, A MAGISTRATE HAS A DISCRETION TO HEAR AND DETERMINE THE MATTER SUMMARILY OR TO COMMIT FOR TRIAL. IT IS INDICATED THAT MAGISTRATES IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA HEAR ABOUT 90 PERCENT OF THE CASES BEFORE THE COURTS. THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY 30 APPEALS A MONTH FROM COURTS OF SUMMARY JURISDICTION, A RELATIVELY SMALL PROPORTION OF CASES HEARD. FINES AND PROBATION ARE VIEWED AS THE PRINCIPAL 'TEACHING AIDS' OF THE MAGISTRACY WHEREBY OFFENDERS ARE MOTIVATED TO REVISE CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR. SOME MISCELLANEOUS BILLS BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE ARE DISCUSSED BRIEFLY, AND A SEMINAR PAPER IS QUOTED AS CHARGING MAGISTRATES WITH A BIAS TOWARD THE STATUS QUO, ACCEPTING POLICE EVIDENCE, AND BELITTLETMENT OF DEFENDANTS WHO CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO. IT IS NOTED THAT MAGISTRATES IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA ARE OFFICIALLY PUBLIC SERVANTS, WITH ALL LEGAL ACTIVITIES BEING UNDER A DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL SERVICES, SUCH THAT PROSECUTORS ARE UNDER THE SAME DEPARTMENT AS MAGISTRATES. VARIOUS MATTERS OF DISCUSSION INITIATED BY CONFERENCE MEMBERS IN RESPONSE TO THIS PRESENTATION ARE REPORTED. (RCB)
Index Term(s): Australia; Court structure; Magistrates; Role perception
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=51687

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