In West Virginia no law education is requred to be elected magistrate. How/why is this possible? How can an uneducated person be given legal power?Giving a person who is lacking a law education...

In West Virginia no law education is requred to be elected magistrate. How/why is this possible? How can an uneducated person be given legal power?

Giving a person who is lacking a law education the power to fine and imprison people is insane, in my opinion.

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A number of comments here.

First, there's a big difference between having no "law education" and being "uneducated."  Magistrates do not have duties that are as extensive as those that judges have and might not really need to be lawyers.

Second, this might simply be a relic of days gone by when there were not really any law schools.  It could be from the days when people like Abraham Lincoln could become lawyers without ever going to law school.

Third, just because the law says it's possible for someone to be elected without qualifications doesn't mean it's likely to happen.  You don't have to have a college degree to be elected to Congress or the Presidency either.

Finally, you can be appointed to the Supreme Court of the US without being a lawyer too.  So if we don't need to list qualifications for the highest court in the land, it shouldn't be a huge deal if we don't list them for a very low-level position.

charliewest | Student

Hey folks, thanks for the answers.  I did not know some of the things you said.  pohnpei397 said, "magistrates do not have duties that are extensive."  Putting someone is jail is extensive in my opinion.  West Virginia magsrates jail people on a daily basis.  You can be elected magistrate in West Va. with only a high school education. 

There are incompetent lawyers who ruin peoples lives by making very bad decisions. Imagine what a person with no law education can do to someone's life.  I'm not trying to be a jerk.  I just think the idea of these magistrates in West Va. is fundamentally and morally wrong. The magistrates I've communicated with are arrogant and short tempered.  They seem to be subjective instead of objective.  Thanks.

bor | Student

Some jurisdictions, Ohio, I still believe also, have Mayor's Courts. The Mayor, even if not a lawyer, of the city/villiage acts as a Judge for minor offenses, mainly traffic, as one example.

Additionally, as a comparitive example, in Ohio, if I am not mistaken, the County Coroner did not have to have a medical license, since I suppose, the position was deemed more Administrative rather than medical. Now it is required the Coroner/Medical examiner be a licensed doctor.

The federal constitution permits a person other than a Judge/neutral magistrate to sign an arrest warrant if the charge is a violation of a Municipal Ordinance. This is another example of a possible non lawyer  performing a basic lawyer function.

When you have a NON lawyer, such as in your example, doing legal work, you can bet thier Law clerk/ Law director is a power behind them, especially if decisions have to be drafted.