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The office of a Justice may be vacated
(1) By the issue of a new General Commission of the Peace omitting his name (s. 7);
(2) By an Order of the Governor in Council notified in the Gazette (s. 7);
(3) By resignation, the acceptance of which is notified in the Gazette (s. 7);
(4) If a Chairman of a Municipal District, by prohibition of the Governor in Council from discharging the duties of a Justice (s. 9).
Section 11 gives power to the Governor in Council to appoint any Justice to be a Police Magistrate. Before the passing of this Act the authority of Police Magistrates in districts other than those for which they were appointed was somewhat obscure, but by this section a person appointed to that office is a Police Magistrate for the whole of the Colony, and has the powers of a Police Magistrate wherever he may be. In the absence of other Justices, he may do any act which may be done by two or more Justices. He may also, where necessary, perform the duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions (ss. 30 and 31). These duties are described in various parts of the Act, and consist mainly of taking depositions and transmitting them when required to the proper officer, of receiving the proceeds of estreated recognizances and of executions, and keeping proper accounts of them, which are to be forwarded, with the moneys received, to the Treasury (ss. 168, 176, and Schedule IV.)
Part II. provides also for taking the oaths of allegiance and of office. It is to be noted that they need not be taken a second time, and that persons who object to take an oath may make an affirmation of allegiance.
Part III. defines the jurisdiction of Justices. They may, in certain cases, exercise their authority when absent from the geographical limits of their jurisdiction. Thus, for example, when out of Queensland they may witness signatures to instruments which are to take effect in Queensland, and in certain cases may administer oaths
(s. 14); their convictions, orders, etc., signed when absent from their jurisdiction, are not invalid merely because they were so absent at the time of signing them (s. 32), and a warrant of commitment or remand by a Justice with limited jurisdiction is effectual throughout the Colony (s. 33). It is also provided that a person may be apprehended and brought before a Justice outside the limits of his jurisdiction if the offence was committed in his jurisdiction (ss. 35 and 36).
Summonses, warrants, convictions, and such orders as are not allowed to be made verbally, must be signed by the Justice making them (s. 22). The seal of the Justice is no longer required. Summonses and warrants are not avoided by reason of death or vacation of office (s. 37).
The Governor in Council is empowered to appoint places in proclaimed districts in which Justices may hold Courts of Petty Sessions; and until such places are appointed the places in existing Police Districts where such Courts are now held are deemed to be places appointed under the Act (ss. 22 and 23).
The powers of one Justice are defined in sections 24 to 27. Any one Justice may receive a omplaint, grant a summons and warrant, compel witnesses to attend, and do all other acts prelim. inary to the hearing. After the decision of a case or of an appeal he may issue the necessary warrants of execution and of commitment. The number of Justices who must be present at a hearing of a complaint is often directed by the Act conferring the jurisdiction, but where no such direction is given one Justice may hear it. There is also a general provision that where by any Act any person is made liable to a penalty or punishment, or to pay a sum of money (the case not being one of treason, felony, or misdemeanour), and no provision is made for the trial of the offender, he may be tried summarily by two or more Justices (s. 19).
Where several Justices are present at a hearing the decision of the majority prevails; but a Police Magistrate or two Justices may commit a defendant for trial in a case of an indictable offence, although a majority of Justices is in favour of discharging him (s. 28).
In all cases where two Justices at least are required to be present, those making the decision must be present throughout the hearing (s. 29).
The general duty of police officers is explained in sections 31 and 34 to 36. These are to perform the duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions when required; to obey the warrants, orders, and directions of Justices; to apprehend offenders and bring them before Justices of competent jurisdiction.
A Justice refusing to do his duty may be compelled to do it by an order of the Supreme Court or a Judge, made on the application of the party aggrieved and founded on an affidavit of the facts (s. 38).
Justices have power in certain cases to order delivery of possession of goods in custody of police officers which are alleged to have been stolen (s. 39), and to try an accessory to the commission of a simple offence, either with the principal offender or separately for a substantive offence (s. 41). There is also a salutary provision (s. 40) by which they may summarily punish any person wilfully insulting or interrupting them while sitting in the exercise of their jurisdiction.
PART IV.-GENERAL PROCEDURE.
In every case the first step to be taken is to procure the attendance of the defendant. Proceedings are commenced by a complaint, which may be made by the complainant personally or by some one acting for him (s. 42). Care should be taken that the simple provisions of the Act respecting the matter to be stated, and the manner of stating it are accurately followed (ss. 43 to 47); for although mere formal defects will not render the complaint void, yet time may be lost in adjournments, and the expenses of correction may have to be borne (ss. 48 to 50).
The mode of making complaints depends upon whether the intention is to issue a summons or a warrant in the first instance. If a summons is to be issued, the complaint may be a verbal statement; if a warrant, it must be a written statement verified on oath (s. 51).
In cases of simple offences and breaches of duty, the injured party must, unless it is otherwise provided by the special statute, make complaint of the injury within six months of receiving it or he will not be entitled to redress (s. 52).
After the complaint has been received the Justice may issue his summons (s. 53). This is directed to the defendant, and, after a short statement of the matter complained of, requires him to appear at a certain time and place to make his answer (s. 54). The summons
should, when practicable, be served personally (s. 56). A summons is not necessary in ex parte proceedings (s. 55).
In cases of indictable offences, and also in some cases of simple offences (but only under the express authority of some Act), a warrant for the apprehension of the suspected criminal may be issued without the previous issue of a summons, but the Justice may always, if he thinks fit, proceed by way of summons (ss. 57 to 59).
A warrant (which contains a short description of the offence and of the defendant) is addressed either to some police officer by name or to all police officers. In the latter case, any police officer may proceed to apprehend the defendant and bring him before Justices; and the warrant remains in force until he is so apprehended (ss. 60 to 63).
A Justice may issue search warrants in cases where there is reason to believe that goods suspected to be stolen are in a house or other place within his jurisdiction. The warrant authorises search for the goods, attachment of them when found, and, if necessary, apprehension and bringing up of the person in whose custody they were (s. 64). A search warrant need no longer (as heretofore) include a direction to apprehend the person in whose custody the goods are found. The Justice may, if he thinks fit, issue a summons for his appearance.
By an endorsement on the back of any warrant it may be made available for the apprehension of the defendant in a place in which the Justice who granted it has no jurisdiction, and the procedure under a backed warrant is the same as under an original warrant for the jurisdiction in which apprehension is made (ss. 66 to 68). Similar provisions are enacted respecting warrants to apprehend witnesses (s. 80) and warrants of execution (ss. 170 and 171).
Under various statutes relating to the criminal law apprehension of offenders may be made without warrant. Section 69 of this Act provides that a person so apprehended shall, as soon as practicable, be taken before a Justice; if this is not practicable within twenty-four hours, the Clerk of Petty Sessions, or an officer of police, is to inquire into the case, and, unless it is of a serious nature, is to discharge the defendant on recognizance, with or without sureties. This provision, which is new to our law, should greatly facilitate the administration of justice in thinly populated districts.
Having disposed of the manner in which the defendant may be brought before the Court, the next questions for consideration are the general principles that govern the conduct of the hearing. The room. in which Justices sit to decide cases of simple offences and breaches of duty is deemed an open and public court, subject to the power (newly conferred) to exclude strangers where the interests of public morality require it (s. 70). It is otherwise, however, as to the room in which the hearing of a case of an indictable offence for the purpose of committal for trial is being conducted; but strangers are not to be excluded unless the ends of justice render it necessary (s. 71). The parties may conduct their cases by counsel and solicitor if they so desire (s. 72). Provision is made by sections 78 to 83 for compelling witnesses to attend and give evidence, and also, where necessary, to produce documents in their possession and power. The process is similar to that described above for bringing the defendant before the Court. Witnesses are to be examined on oath, and may be cross-examined and re-examined (ss. 72 and 73). Their depositions are to be reduced to writing, and read over to and signed by the witnesses; they are also to be signed by the Justices (s. 77).
In every case the person who made the complaint is a competent witness to support it (s. 74). An important change in the law is introduced by section 75, which renders the defendant, and the wife or husband of the defendant, a competent witness on any complaint of a simple offence or breach of duty.
In cases of indictable offences where it is necessary to defer the hearing, the Justices may adjourn it and remand the defendant. Such remand must be by warrant if for a time exceeding three days, but the utmost limit of remand is eight days (ss. 84 and 85). In cases of simple offences and breaches of duty the Justices may adjourn the hearing to a certain time and place, to be stated publicly in court (s. 88). If they think fit the defendant may in any case be discharged on recognizance; otherwise he must be committed to gaol for safe custody (ss. 87 and 88).
The subject of recognizances generally is dealt with in sections 91 to 96. A defendant or witness may be discharged upon recognizance, which is conditioned for his re-appearance at the time and place mentioned. Suretics may be required by the Justices at discretion,