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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 ?
Among her topics are the network of anthropological concepts in her philosophy, human dignity and value in her writings, and human dignity in contemporary magisterial documents and the functionality of the Steinian model of dignity.
The police took her into custody from Sialkot airport and produced her before a local magisterial court.
They were consequently admitted to bail at a cost of N500,000 and two sureties each in likesome who must be civil servants or have landed properties within the Magisterial districts.
The court observed that the Act provided a mechanism to resolve the disputes between the landlords and peasants through the tribunal which was headed by Mukhtiarkar who exercised magisterial powers.
In the 2018 general elections, for the first time the ECP had deputed personnel of Armed Forces and Civil Armed Forces inside polling stations with magisterial powers.
Mehn also clarifies that there are no public defenders in magisterial courts except in circuit courts where this service is practiced.
Srinagar -- In occupied Kashmir, police have failed to submit the report before the magisterial officer in the custodial killing of a school principal, Rizwan Assad.
Asked whether the armed forces will be given magisterial power, he said only executive magistrates, judicial magistrates and senior joint district judges will be on duty in the field with magisterial power.
ISLAMABAD -- 'The Law Minister's assertion that the Parliament gave magisterial powers to the army is at best self serving half truth and at worst a downright manipulation to pave way for polls day rigging and is rejected'.
He said that section 193 (a) of the law passed by the Parliament granted magisterial powers also to an officer of the armed forces but only 'in respect of offences of personation, or capturing of polling station or polling booth punishable under section 174'.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) secretary general and former senator Farhatullah Babar has said that the law ministers assertion that the parliament gave magisterial powers to the army is at best self-serving half-truth and at worst a downright manipulation to pave way for polls day rigging and is rejected.
Islamabad -- After coming under staunch criticism from different sides, the Election Commission of Pakistan in a fresh notification has limited magisterial powers of military personnel set to be deployed in and outside the polling stations in upcoming elections.