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Any individual who has the power of a public civil officer or inferior judicial officer, such as a Justice of the Peace.

The various state judicial systems provide for judicial officers who are often called magistrates, justices of the peace, or police justices. The authority of these officials is restricted by statute, and jurisdiction is commonly limited to the county in which the official presides. The position may be elected or appointed, depending on the governing state statute. The exact role of the official varies by state; it may include handling hearings regarding violations of motor vehicle codes or breaches of the peace, presiding over criminal preliminary hearings, officiating marriages, and dispensing civil actions involving small sums of money.

U.S. magistrates are judicial officers appointed by the judges of federal district courts pursuant to the United States Magistrates Act (28 U.S.C.A. §§ 631 et seq.), enacted in 1968. This act was designed to reduce the workload of federal courts by replacing the old system of U.S. commissioners with a new system of U.S. magistrates. U.S. magistrates can perform more judicial functions than could U.S. commissioners. Federal magistrates may be assigned some, but not all, of the duties of a federal judge. They may serve as special masters (persons appointed by the court to carry out a particular judicial function on behalf of the court), supervise pretrial or discovery proceedings, and provide preliminary consideration of petitions for postconviction relief. U.S. magistrates generally may not decide motions to dismiss or motions for Summary Judgment, because these motions involve ultimate decision making, a responsibility and duty of the federal courts. However, if all the parties to a case agree, a federal magistrate may decide such motions and may even conduct a civil or misdemeanor criminal trial. Federal magistrates are not permitted to preside over felony trials or over jury selection in felony cases.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


n. 1) a generic term for any judge of a court, or anyone officially performing a judge's functions. 2) In a few states, an officer of the court at the lowest level which hears small claims lawsuits, serves as a judge for charges of minor crimes, and/or conducts preliminary hearings in criminal cases to determine if there is enough evidence presented by the prosecution to hold the accused for trial. 3) in Federal Courts, an official who conducts routine hearings assigned by the federal judges, including preliminary hearings in criminal cases. (See: judge, justice of the peace, preliminary hearing)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


an inferior judge. In England and Scotland, they are primarily lay posts filled by ordinary members of the public. Stipendiary magistrates are qualified lawyers who hold the post in the busiest courts.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

MAGISTRATE, mun. law. A public civil officer, invested with some part of the legislative, executive, or judicial power given by the constitution. In a narrower sense this term includes only inferior judicial officers, as justices of the peace.
     2. The president of the United States is the chief magistrate of this nation; the governors are the chief magistrates of their respective states.
     3. It is the duty of all magistrates to exercise the power, vested in them for the good of the people, according to law, and with zeal and fidelity. A neglect on the part of a magistrate to exercise the functions of his office, when required by law, is a misdemeanor. Vide 15 Vin. Ab. 144; Ayl. Pand. tit. 22; Dig. 30, 16, 57; Merl. Rep. h.t.; 13 Pick. R. 523.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Quant au chantier de la diplomatie judiciaire, il a mis en avant la place importante qu'occupe le pouvoir judiciaire marocain dans les instances internationales, rappelant que plusieurs magistrats marocains occupent des postes de responsabilite dans des organisations internationales avec l'appui du CSPJ.
Lors de son allocution d'ouverture des travaux de la 23e reunion du Groupe Africain de l'Union Internationale des Magistrats au centre internationale des conferences, Tayeb Louh a souligne, qu'il [beaucoup moins que] est imperatif d'oeuvrer a renforcer les mecanismes de coordination et de cooperation, qui permettent de lutter contre cette nouvelle forme de criminalite [beaucoup plus grand que].
Trente-deux magistrats de deuxieme grade ont ete promus au 1er grade, 155 juges de troisieme grade ont ete promus au deuxieme grade, dont 24 etaient charges de mission dans ce grade, ajoute la meme source.
Lors de son allocution dae1/4aoouverture des travaux de la 23e rUu[c]union du Groupe Africain de lae1/4aoUnion Internationale des Magistrats au centre internationale des confUu[c]rences, Tayeb Louh a soulignUu[c], quae1/4aoil Uo[beaucoup moins que] est impUu[c]ratif dae1/4aoUN"uvrer Uu renforcer les mUu[c]canismes de coordination et de coopUu[c]ration, qui permettent de lutter contre cette nouvelle forme de criminalitUu[c] Uo[beaucoup plus grand que].
Sur le volet relatif a l'independance de la justice, maEtre Ksentini a rappele que ce fondement essentiel de la democratie, [beaucoup moins que]qui figure dans nos textes[beaucoup plus grand que], doit etre renforce pour permettre aux magistrats de rendre une justice de qualite.
La commission de legislation generale et celle des droits et libertes ont procede, jeudi, a l'audition, successivement, de Raoudha Grafi, presidente de l'Association des magistrats tunisiens, et de Kalthoum Kannou, representante de l'organisation internationale des associations de magistrats (bureau de Tunis) a propos la proposition de loi antiterroriste, dans son volet relatif a la protection des droits de l'Homme.
Des associations professionnelles de magistrats ont tenu, vendredi a Rabat, une rencontre sur les projets de lois organiques relatifs au statut des magistrats et du Conseil superieur du pouvoir judiciaire (CSPJ).
Le president de l'Union Internationale des Magistrats (UIM) est arrive avant-hier au Caire a bord de l'avion egyptien provenant d'Istanbul pour une visite de deux jours.