Meet Cambridgeshire’s youngest magistrate

Daniel Schunmann, 25, is Cambridgeshire’s youngest magistrate and has been given a guest spot on this site to speak up for young people like Lucy Tate who are appointed JPs.

I feel we should place trust and pride in our exceptionally talented young people who are, after all, old enough to vote, get married, take out a bank loan.

“As the youngest Magistrate in Cambridgeshire, I am very encouraged to hear about the appointment of Lucy Tate. I was 25 when appointed and have sat on the Cambridge bench for the past 10 months.

“I firmly believe that young people have much to contribute to the judicial process in this country. The whole ethos of the Magistracy is that it is local justice and therefore the bench, must reflect the community it serves, which, of course, includes young people.

“In a time when we are trying to encourage community spirit and volunteering among the young, teach citizenship to young people and engage them in the legal and politic processes this country has, it can only be a good thing that the age of Magistrates has been lowered.

“The qualities you need to become a Magistrate – good character, communication skills, social awareness, sound temperament, sound judgement and commitment – can just as easily be possessed by someone of 18 as someone of 70.

“Most people are perhaps not aware of the long, careful and detailed selection process for the Magistracy. This, together with the huge on-going commitment you make to training, means that all Magistrates, regardless of age, are well-equipped to carry out their duties and make decisions without ‘fear or favour, affection or ill will’ as the judicial oath states.

“The bench will, more often than not, consist of three Magistrates, so ‘youth’ would not be able to dominate any more than, (say), the ethnicity or gender of the panel members. The bench works as a team, each individual using his or her personal judgement but within the strict guidelines of the law and under the guidance of the court clerk.

“I feel we need to be applauding and encouraging any young person who volunteers and chooses to give something back to the community; whether it is as a Councillor, Magistrate, Charity Trustee or Volunteer.

“The contribution of volunteers and the voluntary sector in this country is huge and we must encourage young people to step forward for these roles in order to preserve, sustain and strengthen this for the future.

“I applaud and echo Lucy’s comments and hope she finds her time as a Magistrate as rewarding and interesting as I have.”