The United States Sheriffs’ Work 

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The United States Sheriffs’ Work

When English settlers began to arrive in America early in the 17th century they established systems of government with which they were familiar in England. Magna Carta applied in the colonies and so American sheriffs could not act as judges but had all the legal powers of English sheriffs. These powers were still extensive even though English sheriffs made little use of them.

In America, the powers were used to the full. For example, English sheriffs had the role of "delivering" accused persons to the Assize for trial. In America, however, there were no Assize courts and all crimes were dealt with locally. American sheriffs could not adopt the passive role of English sheriffs by holding accused persons to await trial at some date in the future; instead they adopted an active law enforcement role by catching accused persons and delivering them to the local court for trial. Many of the traditional powers of sheriffs proved to be well-suited to frontier conditions and the mediaeval power.

By the end of the 19th century, therefore, the sheriff was firmly established in America as an elected official responsible for law enforcement within the county system of local government and that is still the position today. Within urban areas law enforcement is carried out by town police forces but, in rural states, particularly in the South and the Mid-West, the county sheriff and his deputies remain the principal law enforcement officers. Even where urban police forces exist, sheriffs retain responsibility for county jails and for providing the security element within courts. The enforcement of court orders, whether civil or criminal, also remains a sheriff rather than a police function. The differences between the present position of sheriffs in England and America is an example of an old political truth. Either you use power or you lose power.

Sheriffs in Great Britain

Sheriffs in England may have survived for 1,000 years but it is questionable whether they will survive for the next century if they cannot find a real role to perform. They cannot, of course, be­come law enforcement officers as in America, and it would be difficult to make them judges as in Scotland because that would mean tampering with Magna Carta and would in any event merely be duplicating the already ex­isting tasks of JPs and circuit judges. Despite these problems, however, it is quite possible that sheriffs could find a real role to play within the existing courts system. Magna Carta, after all, merely prevents sheriffs from sitting as judges by reason of their office as sheriff. It does not prevent someone who is already a judge from being ap­pointed as a sheriff.

Since the abolition of quarter sessions in 1974, there has been a noticeable lack of any real regional structure within the courts system. The six circuits are too large and the 200 magistrates' county courts are too small to fulfill that role properly. However, now that magistrates' courts are being reorganized into the 40 to 50 county magistrates' court committees, why not appoint the chairman of each committee as sheriff of the county served by that magistrates' court? This would be a personal honour and a recognition of their important role in the legal system.

Another possibility could be for local circuit judges to be appointed as sheriffs perhaps for a period of three years at a time. Such circuit judges/sheriffs could continue to sit as ordinary judges in the Crown and county courts but could also be given a general responsibility for supervising and representing all the magistrates', county and Crown courts within their county. They would have the task of meeting regularly with local judges, JPs and members of the legal profession and reporting to the Lord Chancellor on local views and problems. In carrying out such a role, they could provide liaison between the Lord Chancellor and local courts without creating new bureaucratic structures.

Both of these suggestions would create new and relevant roles for the office of sheriff and return it to the legal system where it truly belongs. Because one thing is certain. If no real role is created, then the sheriffs of England will simply ride away and disappear into the sunset.

Summing up

Speak on: 1.Legal aid organised in England.

2. The three main legal professions in England.

3. Lawyers in the United States.

4. Entering the judiciary (England, the USA).

5. Functions of judges (England, the USA)

6. Judicial independence and immunity.

7. Sheriff’s responsibilities in Great Britain and the USA.

Revision translation

Профессия юриста в Великобритании

Функции представителей сторон в гражданском процессе, защиты по уголовным делам и оказания иных юридических услуг выполняются адвокатами, которые в Англии издавна делятся на две категории – барристеров и солиситоров. Барристеры — это юристы, имеющие исключительное право выступать в высших судебных инстанциях (как и солиситоры, они вправе выступать также в судах низших инстанций). Для того чтобы стать барристером, необходимо пройти стажировку у опытного барристера и длительный курс обучения и после сдачи соответствующих экзаменов быть принятым в члены одного из четырех «иннов» – объединений, входящих в корпорацию барристеров. Деятельность барристеров связана со многими традиционными правомочиями и ограничениями. В частности, они должны общаться с клиентами лишь через солиситоров, носить тогу и парик и т.п. Наиболее опытные и квалифицированные барристеры назначаются королевой по рекомендации лорд-канцлера на должность «королевского советника», что дает им дополнительные правомочия и привилегии. Корпорация барристеров является самостоятельной и возглавляется сенатом и советом барристеров.

Солиситоры – значительно более многочисленная категория юристов. Они дают консультации своим клиентам, часто на постоянной основе, готовят к слушанию гражданские и уголовные дела в интересах своих клиентов, выступают от имени обвинения или защиты, а также в качестве представителей интересов сторон в судах низших инстанций. Корпорация солиситоров возглавляется Юридическим обществом, управляемым выборным советом. Кандидаты в солиситоры должны иметь юридическое образование либо пройти курс обучения при Юридическом обществе, они сдают специальные экзамены и проходят двухлетнюю стажировку.

За последние годы большое развитие получила система оказания бесплатной или льготной юридической помощи малоимущим. Согласно принятому в 1988 г. закону, Совет по юридической помощи неимущим, который назначается из опытных барристеров и солиситоров, учреждает специальный фонд, из которого и распределяет средства на оказание бесплатной или льготной юридической помощи. Такая помощь в Англии оказывается как по уголовным, так и по гражданским делам, причем при необходимости проводится проверка имущественного положения лица, обратившегося за юридической помощью. Еще раньше, в 1986 г., был издан действующий ныне закон о бесплатной юридической помощи для Шотландии.

Unit V

The Law

Subject of Study

Texts: A. You should Know Law

B. Sources of Law

C. Legal System of Great Britain

D. Ancient Laws

E. The Middle Ages Legislation

F. The Centre of Government and Justice


A. Prepositions

Tenses in the Active and Passive Voice

The Participle

The Participial Constructions


accept v принимать
administer v управлять, отправлять (правосудие)
adopt v принимать
adoption n принятие
alleged n подозреваемый
appeal v апеллировать, обращаться, обжаловать
application n применение, обращение
apply v обращаться, применять
approve v одобрять
assault n нападение; угроза физическим насилием
attempt n попытка
be liable нести ответственность, быть ответственным
beneficiary n бенефициарий; лицо, получающее доходы с доверительной собственности
break v нарушать
break = violate v нарушать
case n судебное дело
challenge v бросать вызов, оспаривать, выражать
civil adj гражданский
claim n требование, иск
codify v кодифицировать
commit v совершать, передавать (на рассмотрение)
consistent adj совместный, согласующийся, учредительный
court n суд, судебное заседание, судьи, судья (США)
create v создавать
criminal adj преступный, уголовный
custom n обычай
deal (with) v иметь дело с чем-то
defendant n ответчик, обвиняемый, подсудимый, подзащитный
define v определять
descriptive adj описательный
detect v обнаруживать
disobey v не повиноваться
draft v составлять законопроект
egalitarian adj уравнительный, эгалитарный
enforce v приводить в исполнение, принуждать
equity n невиновность
execute v казнить
fraud n обман, мошенничество
govern v управлять, править
ground n основание
guilt n вина, виновность
impose v налагать, предписывать
inherit v наследовать, быть наследником
innocence n невинность
justice = fairness n справедливость, законность, правосудие, судья
law n закон, право, правоведение
lawyer n юрист, адвокат
legal adj юридический, правовой, законный
loser n пострадавший, потерпевший
loss n потеря, ущерб, убыток
obligation n обязательство, долг, обязанность
observance n соблюдение
observe v соблюдать
pass v принимать
penalty n штраф, наказание
plaintiff n истец
precedent n (судебный) прецедент
prescriptive adj предписывающий, основанный на давности
prevail v преобладать
prevent v предотвращать
probate v утверждение завещания
probation n условное освобождение на поруки
property n имущество
propose v предлагать, вносить предложение
prosecution n обвинение
punishment n наказание, взыскание
rape n изнасилование
refuse v отвергать, отказывать
riot n нарушение общественного порядка
sense n чувство, смысл
settle = regulate v решать, договариваться, урегулировать
sign v подписывать
source n источник
statute n статут, законодательный акт
suspect n подозреваемый
tort n деликт, гражданское правонарушение
trust n доверительная собственность; управление имуществом доверительным собственником
valid adj действительный, действующий, обоснованный
victim n жертва
violate v нарушать (право, закон)
violation n нарушение (права, закона)
wrong n правонарушение

Vocabulary Notes:

accept the rules принимать правила
application of the law применение закона
break the law нарушать закон
canon law каноническое право, предписанный закон
Common law Общее право
court decision решение суда
customary law обычное право
customary rules обычные нормы
doctrine of precedent доктрина прецедента
enforce law принуждать выполнять закон
government in power правительство, находящееся у власти
legal rights законные права
Magistrates’ Court магистратский, мировой суд
observe the rules соблюдать нормы
pass a law принимать закон
propose a bill внести законопроект
reduce to writing выразить в письменной форме
source of law источник права
standard of proof степень убедительности доказательств
the Crown Court Cуд короны
the Lord Chancellor Лорд-канцлер

Text A. Read and translate the text. Do the exercises given bellow.

You should Know Law

We live in a complicated world with new scientific and social developments which increase the tempo of our daily living activities and make them more difficult and involved. People are more than ever vitally concerned and actively interested in community life.

There is a very important field of knowledge that people should know. It refers to the Law, those rules and regulations which govern every social action.

A knowledge of law with its basic principles and applications is a necessity for any person. Nowadays all people are as a rule well-informed and it is desirable for them to be aware of their legal rights and duties. People should be able to recognize the problems which confront them and should have the intelligence and understanding to seek legal guidance when they need it. There is nothing mysterious, nothing awesome about the Law. It consists of the rules of community living and is based on the reasonable needs of the community.

There are many definitions of law.The law can be characterized as a set of rules, regulations and accumulated decisions of the courts.

The law is based upon the recorded experiences of society and community in their efforts to define and regulate the relationships between their members. By using the law it is intended to determine all disputes in society. The laws passed by the legislature result from a need to correct existing conditions. The decisions of the court, interpreting these statutes, protect the individual from injustice.

To avoid injustice through human error, the law has established a procedure of appeal to a higher court with the opportunity for reconsideration.

The word “law” is used to mean many things. Laws can be defined as a set of rules established by a governing power to maintain peace, secure justice for its members, define the legal rights of the individual and the community, and to punish offenders for legal wrongs.

Law essentially serves two functions in modern society. First, it serves to order and regulate the affairs of all individuals, corporations or governments. Secondly, law acts as standard of conduct and morality. Through both these functions law promotes and achieves a broad range of social objectives.

The English word law refers to limits upon various forms of behavior. Some laws are descriptive: they simply describe how people, or even natural phenomena, usually behave (for example, the law of gravity, the laws of economics). Other laws are prescriptive – they prescribe how people ought to behave (for example, traffic laws that prescribe how fast we should drive).

In all societies, relations between people are regulated by prescriptive laws. Some of them are customs – that is, informal rules of social and moral behavior. Some are rules we accept if we belong to particular social institutions, such as religious, educational and cultural groups. And some are precise laws made by nations and enforced against all citizens within their power.

Customs need not to be made by governments, and they need not be written down. We learn how we are expected to behave in society through the instruction of family and teachers, the advice of friends, and our experiences in dealing with strangers. Sometimes, we can break these rules without suffering any penalty. But if we continually break the rules, or break a very important one, other members of society may ridicule us, act violently toward us or refuse to have anything to do with us. The ways in which people talk, eat and drink, work, and relax together are usually called customs.

Order is rich in meaning. Let’s start with “law and order”. Maintaining order in this sense means establishing the rule of law to preserve life and to protect property. To the seventeenth-century philosopher Tomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679), preserving life was the most important function of law. He described life without law as life in a ‘state of nature’. Without rules, people would live like predators, stealing and killing for personal benefit.

Members of every community have made laws for themselves in self-protection. If it were not for the law, you could not go out in daylight without the fear of being kidnapped, robbed or murdered. There are far more good people in the world than the bad, but there are enough of the bad to make laws necessary in the interests of everyone. Even if we were all as good as we ought to be, laws would still be necessary.

Every country tries, therefore, to provide laws, which will help its people to live safely and comfortably. This is not at all an easy thing to do. No country has been successful in producing laws, which are entirely satisfactory. But the imperfect laws are better than none.

The English word law expresses two notions: the Law as the whole body of laws considered collectively, as a system; and a law as a rule made by authority for the proper regulation of a community or society, or correct conduct in life.

We can define the Law as a set of rules which form the pattern of behaviour of a given society. In a developed state the law embraces all spheres of production, distribution and exchange. The law lays down the measures for defending the state system and determines the legal statute, the rights and duties of citizens in any society.

Vocabulary Practice

Ex. 1. Read the words and guess their meaning. Mind the stress.

'limit 'form 'object 'aspect 'person 'sphere 'status 'operate 'analyze 'social 'standard 'function 'mechanism   mo'rality ac'tivity pro'duction   ‚indi'vidual ‚corpo'ration ‚civili'zation ‚distri'bution ‚regu'lator consti'tutional ad‚mini'stration

Ex. 2. Complete the list of derivatives. Use a dictionary if necessary.


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