Office Of Magistrate
The office of magistrate traces its development through centuries
of English and American history. Many of the duties now performed
by magistrates were once carried out by justices of the peace.
However, the office of justice of the peace was phased out
in 1974, and the Virginia magistrate system was established
as part of a statewide court reorganization plan. While magistrates
are not judges possessing trial jurisdiction they are an integral
part of the judicial system and are judicial officers of the
Commonwealth of Virginia. The principal function of the magistrate
is to provide an independent, unbiased review of complaints
brought to the office by police officers, sheriffs, deputies,
and citizens. Magistrates are not police officers nor are they
in any way connected with law enforcement. Instead, magistrates
are issuing officers who serve as a buffer between law enforcement
and society. Most magistrates are not lawyers; however, they
are specially trained to perform such duties as issuing search
warrants, subpoenas, arrest warrants, summonses, and setting
bail. In addition, magistrates may assist the public by providing
information on the judicial system processes and procedures.
For more information
by call the Virginia State Bar Referral Service toll-free
at: 800-552-7977 or 804-775-0808.