District judge (magistrates’ courts)

Introduction

District judges (magistrates’ courts) hear criminal cases, youth cases and also some civil proceedings in magistrates’ courts. They can be authorised to hear cases in the Family Court. Some are authorised to deal with extradition proceedings and terrorist cases. They are also authorised to sit as prison adjudicators.

District judges (magistrates’ courts) usually hear cases alone. By virtue of their office they are Justices of the Peace.

Appointment

District judges (magistrates’ courts) are appointed by the Queen, on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor, following a fair and open competition administered by the Judicial Appointments Commission.

The statutory qualification is a five-year right of audience – the right of a lawyer to appear and speak as an advocate for a party in a case in the court – in relation to all proceedings in any part of the Supreme Court, or all proceedings in county courts or magistrates’ courts. Additionally, they will have often have served as deputy district judges (magistrates’ courts) for a minimum of two years or 30 days’ sittings.

Court Dress

District judges (magistrates’ courts) do not normally wear robes in court.

Deputy District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts)

Deputy district judges (magistrates’ courts) sit on a fee-paid basis in the magistrates’ courts, and for a minimum of 15 days a year. During this period, appraisals on performance are collected from pupil-master judges – other experienced district judges (magistrates’ courts), separately, act as mentors to provide support and guidance to their fee-paid colleagues. In general, the jurisdiction of a deputy district judge (magistrates’ courts) is the same as that of a district judge (magistrates’ courts).

Deputy district judges (magistrates’ courts) are appointed by the Lord Chancellor after a fair and open competition administered by the Judicial Appointments Commission, and, prior to appointment, are barristers and solicitors or Fellows of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives with a good knowledge of criminal law and procedure.

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