The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Justices of the Peace Act 1361

Here is the Act. It is still in use in our courts every day.

1. FIRST, that in every county of England shall be assigned for the keeping of the peace, one lord, and with him three or four of the most worthy in the county, with some learned in the law, and they shall have power to restrain the offenders, rioters, and all other barrators, and to pursue, arrest, take, and chastise them according their trespass or offence; and to cause them to be imprisoned and duly punished according to the law and customs of the realm, and according to that which to them shall seem best to do by their discretions and good advisement; and also to inform them, and to inquire of all those that have been pillors and robbers in the parts beyond the sea, and be now come again, and go wandering, and will not labor as they were wont in times past: and to take and arrest all those that they may find by indictment, or by suspicion, and to put them in prison; and to take of all them that be not of good fame, where they shall be found, sufficient surety and mainprise of their good behavior towards the king and his people, and the other duly to punish; to the intent that the people be not by such rioters or rebels troubled nor endamaged, nor the peace blemished, nor merchants nor other passing by the highways of the realm disturbed, nor put in fear by peril which might happen of such offenders; and also to hear and determine at the king’s suit all manner of felonies and trespasses done in the same county according to the laws and customs aforesaid; and that writs of oyer and determiner be granted according to the statutes thereof made, and that the justices which shall be thereto assigned be named by the court, and not by the party. And the king will, that all general inquiries before this time granted within any seignories, for the mischiefs and oppressions which have been done to the people by such inquiries, shall cease utterly and be repealed and that fines, which are to be made before justices for a trespass done by any person, be reasonable and just, having regard to the quantity of the trespass, and the causes for which they may be made.

And here is the Judicial Oath:-

I, (name), do swear by Almighty God that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth the Second in the office of Justice of the Peace, and I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

The oath for judges is similar, and those of other religions or of none may take a slightly different oath.