Courts are independent and impartial. Judges, in exercising the jurisdiction of the court, are subject only to law. Judges are responsible for the conduct of proceedings that are before them and are able to make orders to ensure that proceedings are conducted fairly and without disruption.
In addition to judges, community magistrates and justices of the peace sit as judicial officers in the District Court criminal jurisdiction.
Judicial justices of the peace have jurisdiction over many minor offences. They can hear a case and sentence an offender. Justices of the peace can also preside over a defendant’s first appearance in court for any other offence (and may, for example, grant bail or make suppression orders at that appearance).
Community magistrates have the same jurisdiction as justices of the peace and jurisdiction over any other offence where the law allows and any other offence where the maximum penalty does not exceed $40,000. Community magistrates cannot sentence people to prison or home detention.
In the District Court and the Employment Court the accepted protocol for addressing a judge is, 'Judge (surname)'. When referring to a judge in any publication, the media should refer in the case of the High Court to 'Justice (surname)' and in the case of the District Court the 'Judge'. Where a judge is referred to in third person, the appropriate reference for all benches is, 'the Judge'. The preference is that their judicial title is used and that first names are not. However, media may need to refer to a judge by their full name as a point of distinction from another judge of the same surname or in order to specify the gender of a particular judge. When addressing a community magistrate or justice of the peace, use Mr/Mrs/Ms as appropriate.
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