Magistrates are officers of the state; in modern usage the term usually refers to a judge or prosecutor. This was not always the case; in ancient Rome, a magistratus was one of the highest government officers and possessed both judicial and executive powers. Today, in common law systems, a magistrate has limited law enforcement and administration authority. In civil law systems, a magistrate might be a judge in a superior court; the magistrate's court might have jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases. A related, but not always equivalent, term is chief magistrate, which historically can denote a political and administrative officer.
The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904) 
- Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 163-164.
- It is impossible to overrate the importance of keeping the administration of justice by magistrates clear from all suspicion of unfairness.
- Wills, J., Queen v. Huggins (1895), L. R. 1 Q. B. D. , p. 565.
- It is necessary for Courts of Justice to hold a strict hand over summary proceedings before magistrates, and I never will agree to relax any of the rules by which they have been bound. Their jurisdiction is of a limited nature, and they must shew that the party was brought within it.
- Lord Kenyon, C.J., King v. Stone (1800), 1 East, 650.
- It is perfectly plain that either the Crown or any subject may intervene and inform a superior Court that an inferior Court is exceeding its jurisdiction; and it is the duty of the superior Court, when it is so informed, to confine the inferior Court within the limits of its jurisdiction.
- Sir G. Jessel, M.R., Jacobs v. Brett (1875), L. R. 20 Eq. Ca. 5.
- Excess of jurisdiction is ground for prohibition.
- Brett, L.J., Martin v. Mackonochie (1879), L. R. 4 Q. B. D. 755.
- I do not see to what purpose we exercise a superintendency over all inferior jurisdictions, unless it be to inspect their proceedings, and see whether they are regular or not. I have often heard it said that nothing shall be presumed one way or the other in an inferior jurisdiction.
- Pratt, L.C.J., Rex v. Cleg (1722), 1 Stra. 476.
- We presume a magistrate does right until the contrary appears.
- Laurence, J., King v. Despard (1798), 7 T. R. 744.
- It is of infinite importance to the public that the acts of magistrates should not only be substantially good, but also that they should be decorous.
- Lord Kenyon, C.J., The King v. Sainsbury (1791), 4 T. R. 456.
- It is the more fit for the Supreme Court to give some certain rule in it that may regulate and guide the judgment of inferior Courts.
- Sir Bobert Atkyns, L.C.B., Trial of Sir Ed. Hales (1686), 11 How. St. Tr. 1213.