A Magistrate is appointed by a Judge of the Circuit court to hear lesser cases, like speeding tickets, parking tickets or anything were the outcome can only be a fine but not jail time.
To be eligible to hold the office of justice of the peace, a person must:
- be a citizen of the United States;
- be at least 18 years of age on the day the term starts or on the date of appointment;
- Need not have ever set foot into Law School
- Should be a Grade Five Graduate or better
- Other then a Birth Certificate or in Lou thereto a John Birch membership Certificate, no other certification is required.
A Magistrate need not know how to spell Law School nor is it a requirement that he or she ever came within 50 miles of such an institution.
In general grade school graduation is desired but failure to graduate from fifth grade does not necessarily disqualify one from the appointment.
The Trial: In general the trial is more fair then one in front of a Justice of the Peace. Remember this person got appointed by a real Judge who does not want to be bothered with hearing small offenses. If you loose, you have the right to appeal and you are guaranteed a new trial in front of a real Judge.
Judges get pissed off at magistrates when they have to hear a trial because someone appealed. If they get too many trials appealed to them they tend to give the Magistrate a good Father-Son talking to behind the wood shed.
In general, if you put on a good defense, even if the Magistrate does not understand the laws or case laws presented supporting your position he probably will find you not guilty. Not because he understood your defense but because he figures that someone who knows more then he does will appeal if he or she loses. A magistrate is always aware that unless he or she has some ‘goods’ on the Judge, replacement is always a possibility.
At trial, in general, there is no record made of the proceedings. You have the right to appeal for a new trial in front of a real Judge. Because there is no record made and because of constitutional law allowing for these creatures to hear cases your right to a new trial is guaranteed if you disagree with the ruling.
Often, in smaller towns you can find the Magistrate at his day job as a sleazy used car salesman at Honest Joes used car lot.
Should he or she say something to this effect at trial:
- That is not important
- I take the officers word for it
- It is not necessary
- I don't care about case law
SAY: "With all due respect, a real Judge would consider it important." You can't go wrong by saying it and he can't throw you in jail for contempt. Only a real judge can do that. It does put him or her on notice though that you are not afraid of her or her nonsense.
REMEMBER: I you accept his or her ruling; that ruling is final unless you disagree with it. Your appeal is not on the merits of the case but on the disagreement with the ruling. No record of the proceeding exists and as such you can not appeal on the record. You appeal on the ruling for a new trial in front of a real Judge in the appropriate circuit court.