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Becoming a magistrate at 19

From a young age Luke wanted to be part of making the change he wished to see. Now in his 30's he believes becoming a magistrate is one of the most rewarding things he's ever done.

I was quite young when I decided to become a magistrate. Having seen cases in the local press and hearing friends and family comment, I wanted to be part of the process. Instead of commenting, I wanted to be part of the change I wanted to see. I wanted to make a difference and bring a new line of thinking to the bench, with a fresh perspective on current issues.  

I was 19 years old when I was first appointed as a magistrate and began sitting in court in Leeds. Now in my 30s, I can say without doubt, that the decision I made in my teenage years has gone on to be one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life.  

The reward as a magistrate, for me, is the ability to truly make a difference to the matters you are presiding over. You can ensure the best outcome possible for victims and the wider community. As a magistrate, we are trusted to develop an unbiased decision on events which have occurred in our local communities and provide a clear resolve to the situation. We are there to uphold the rule of law and ensure that the guilty are convicted and the innocent are acquitted.  

Personal growth is another highlight of being a magistrate. You’re exposed to many different situations within a court room and can develop your thinking and structured decision-making skills. You have to consider all the facts and discussion and debate the correct course of action to take. I learnt so much from these debates, and I can apply these skills in my personal life as well. 

I’d encourage anyone to volunteer. Whilst anyone over the age of 18 can become a magistrate, I feel there are some important qualities all magistrates should have. A magistrate should: 

  • Have the ability to listen to the views of others and understand differences of opinion. When there are different viewpoints, you need to be collaborative and allow others to debate topics openly. This is extremely important when the bench is discussing the particulars of a case and needing to form a decision.  
  • Be non-biased. Anyone applying should have the ability to understand their own personal biases and ensure they do not form part of their reasoning. A magistrate must make an objective decision based upon the facts of the case in front of them.  
  • Be fair by treating everyone as an individual and every case individually. A magistrate should make decisions in an open and transparent way, whilst being consistent with the application of our guidance. 
  • Ensure all people who attend court understand what is happening, as a court room can be a confusing place. A magistrate should be observant and able to pick up on small cues which may hamper someone from getting a fair hearing in court and ensure these are addressed.  

Perhaps most importantly, a magistrate needs humility – seeing themselves as an equal to those of the community they serve. This appointment is an honour and as a magistrate, you must remember you are entrusted with powers which assist your community in resolving some of the most difficult issues they face. 

Think you got what it takes to be a magistrate? Learn more about how you can volunteer and start your journey.