magistrate

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Magistrate

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.

magistrate

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)

magistrate

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.

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.

References in classic literature ?
'Very likely, ma'am,' said the magistrate. 'Compose your feelings, ma'am.' Here Mr.
'Here, ma'am?' said the magistrate. 'Where, ma'am?'
The governor, who is the executive magistrate, is appointed by the legislature; is chancellor and ordinary, or surrogate of the State; is a member of the Supreme Court of Appeals, and president, with a casting vote, of one of the legislative branches.
In Delaware, the chief executive magistrate is annually elected by the legislative department.
'What's a magistrate in this case, but an impertinent, unnecessary, unconstitutional sort of interference?
'The magistrates are not called upon to pronounce any opinion on the matter,' said the second old gentleman sharply.
Bumble, was at once instructed that Oliver Twist and his indentures were to be conveyed before the magistrate, for signature and approval, that very afternoon.
But if we consider this matter in another point of view, it will appear to require great caution; for when the advantage proposed is trifling, as the accustoming the people easily to abolish their laws is of bad consequence, it is evidently better to pass over some faults which either the legislator or the magistrates may have committed; for the alterations will not be of so much service as a habit of disobeying the magistrates will be of disservice.
Monsieur de Marquet, with a nervous gesture, caressed his beard into a point, and explained to Rouletabille, in a few words, that he was too modest an author to desire that the veil of his pseudonym should be publicly raised, and that he hoped the enthusiasm of the journalist for the dramatist's work would not lead him to tell the public that Monsieur "Castigat Ridendo" and the examining magistrate of Corbeil were one and the same person.
"Very well," said the Magistrate, putting on the black cap and a solemn look; "as the accused makes no defence, and is undoubtedly guilty, I sentence her to be eaten by the public executioner; and as that position happens to be vacant, I appoint you to it, without bonds."
A third ill effect of the exclusion would be, the depriving the community of the advantage of the experience gained by the chief magistrate in the exercise of his office.
The magistrate cast a glance at a small note at the top of his papers.