JP and Magistrate
Posted by John W on August 22, 1998 at 06:05:13:
In response to Confusion, written by Caroline on August 21, 1998 at 16:50:45
With a flash and a bang, the pantomime demon appears!
A JP was a member of the Comission of the Peace, that is, he was delegated as a member of a local group in a particular county with part of the power of the king, to enforce the Kings Peace which was the basis of Royal power in the land. Bear in mind that in Mediaeval times there were other jurisdictions than that of the King, and other courts, of local lords, towns and Bishops among others. The Justices, who were not lawyers, but who would have a clerk more or less learned in the law to guide them, were chosen by the Lord Lieutenant of the County , who was the local representative of the KIng. So they represented central government when this was very exiguous in nature. They could call out the Posse Comitatus, the armed citizens of the county to suppress riots. They did not arrest drunks, the parish constable would do that, but they would as a local bench of three or so chosen from the whole body of JPs sit in judgment and either settle trivial matters, fining, whipping or setting culprits in the stocks, or remiting the case to the periodic Assizes when a Royal judge of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery would take over.
As local private courts declined and the scope of government grew the Justices were made responsible for an increasing number of functions--Poor Law, settlements for illegitimate children, Factory Acts, agricultural wages , apprenticeships-- anything the Government wanted done in the absence of a proper civil service. To be Pricked of the Commission became an expected social distinction for a significant landowner--viz. Mr Knightley.
Eventually, in the 19th Century, the development of Government Departments with local branches deprived the JPs of most of their civil service function, though, for example , they still handle the licencing of bars and taverns, and they now sit as judges of first instance in local courts for less serious offences, supplemented by Stipendiary Magistrates who are lawyers and salaried, while the JP is a form of voluntary service. They still bring a valuable element of local knowledge and empathy into the legal system--if the police want to search your premises for example they have to satisfy the JP thet it is proper so to do. In recent years the social strata from which the JPs are drawn have been widened considerably.
- Thanks so much Caroline and John. Now, to get it straight... SuzanneR 13:17:53 8/22/98 (3)
- Magistrates John W 17:18:29 8/22/98 (2)
- Justices of the Peace (long) Captain Everett 21:30:08 8/24/98 (1)
- Thanks, Captain Everett! If you feel like it sometime... SuzanneR 22:31:06 8/24/98 (0)
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