March 2022: Magistrates in the Community
For our March meeting we went back to our roots as an educational organisation with a real eye opener of a session for many of us…
Our very own committee member Dawn led a talk explaining all about magistrates in the community.
Dawn explained how the magistrates court works within the hierarchy of the UK judicial system, and most of us were very surprised to hear that around 95% of all cases will be heard to completion by magistrates and not by a judge and jury in the crown courts that we might affiliate with the legal system (thanks to too much Ally mcBeal!).
Magistrates are unpaid volunteers that have been through a rigorous interview, acceptance and training regime to qualify them to sit on a bench to determine verdicts and agree sentencing for criminal cases.
Dawn explained that there are also various other courts like youth and family, where magistrates will get additional training for more specialised work.
Of course Spa Sweethearts love to bring some fun to any occasion so as part of the night we hosted a mock trial/ sentencing exercise with Sam, Sarah and Sarah taking the part of the prosecutor the defence and the probation officer.
The mock trial that we went through took us through a fictional case, where we heard all of the facts, and then left us in groups to use a sentencing guidelines matrix to determine the prosecuted persons future - there were some interesting discussions around the room on how to interpret the various guidelines that magistrates work with.