The latest episode of the All Things Judicial podcast focuses on North Carolina's magistrates with guests Magistrate Christopher Bazzle (Mecklenburg), Magistrate Jacqueline Foster (Guilford), and Magistrate Katrina Watson (Mecklenburg). They discuss the role of magistrates in the Judicial Branch and highlight the specific duties magistrates perform in their counties.
"I believe that the magistrate's role is vital to people's access to justice," said Bazzle on the podcast. "The ability to see and hear everyone in our community for the individuals that they are and give them their chance to be heard, both in criminal and civil court without the necessity of hiring an attorney, gives them a way to resolve issues in a more peaceful manner and that is very important in maintaining a just and balanced society for everybody."
Magistrates are judicial officers, recognized by the North Carolina constitution to perform numerous duties in both civil and criminal proceedings. They are often a person's first contact with the Judicial Branch and make decisions in criminal proceedings that include conducting initial appearances, setting conditions of release, and issuing warrants. Magistrates' civil proceedings include hearing small claims cases, entering orders for summary ejectment (evictions), and determining involuntary commitments. Magistrates are the only civil officials in the state who can perform marriages.