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Clerk of the Peace

county, quarter-sessions, court, sessions, duties and fees

CLERK OF THE PEACE is an offi cer attached to every county or division of a county, city, borough, or other place in which quarter-sessions are held ; being the ministerial officer of the court of quarter-sessions. He is appointed by the Custos Rotulorum of the county, and holds his appointment so long as he shall well demean himself. In case of misbehaviour the justices in sessions, on receiving a complaint in writing, may suspend or discharge him, after an examination and proof thereof openly in the sessions ; in which case the Custoa Rotulorum is required to appoint another person residing within the county or di vision. In case of his refusal or neglect to make this appointment, before the next general quarter-sessions, the justices in sessions may appoint a clerk of the peace. (1 Will. III. c. 21, § 6.) The Custos Ro tulorum may not sell the office or take any bond or assurance to receive any reward, directly or indirectly, for the ap pointment, on pain of both himself and the Clerk of the Peace being disabled from holding their respective offices, and forfeiting double the value of the consi deration, to any one who shall sue them. (Id. § 8.) To give effect to this pro vision, before the Clerk of the Peace enters upon the execution of his duties he takes an oath that he has not paid any thing for his nomination.

The Clerk of the Peace may execute the duties of his office either personally, or by a sufficient deputy approved by the Custos Rotulorum. He or his deputy must be constantly in attendance upon the court of quarter-sessions. He gives notice of its being holden or adjourned ; issues its various processes ; records its proceedings; and performs all the minis terial acts required to give effect to its decisions. During the sitting of the court, he reads all acts directed to be read in sessions ; calls the jurors, and parties under recognizance ; presents the bills to the grand jury and receives them again ; arraigns prisoners, administers oaths, and receives and records verdicts.

Whenever prosecutors decline any other professional assistance, he is required to draw bills of indictment, for which, in cases of felony, he can charge 2s. only, but in cases of misdemeanor he may charge any reasonable amount for his service.

In addition to these general duties he has other special duties imposed upon him by different statutes, in regard to the summoning of juries, the appointment of sheriffs and under-sheriffs, the enrolment of rules of savings' banks and friendly societies, the custody of documents re quired to be deposited with him under standing orders of the Houses of Parlia ment, and other matters.

By act 22 Geo. H. c. 46, § 14, he is restrained, as being an officer of the Court, from acting as a solicitor, at torney or agent, or suing out any pro oess, at any general or quarter sessions, to be held in the county, &c. in which he shall execute his office.

The Clerk of the Peace is paid by fees. Those chargeable upon prisoners acquit ted were abolished by the 55 Geo. III. e. 50, for which he is indemnified by the county. By the 57 Geo. III. c. 91, the justices of the peace for the county are authorised to settle a table of fees, to be approved by the Judges of Assize, which may not be exeeeded by the Clerk of the Peace, under a penalty of Si. If he take wore than is authorised by such table of Ores, he will also be liable to be pro ceeded against at common law for extor tion, and to be removed from his office by the court of quarter-sessions. The ses sions cannot, however, compel the pay ment of these fees by summary process, nor detain the parties until they be paid, but the Clerk of the Peace is left to his remedy by action. A bill, however, is now before parliament, by which Clerks of the Peace are in future to be remune rated by salaries, payable out of the fees collected. (Dickinson's Quarter-Sessions ; Burn's Justice of the Peace )