As a general rule, the word magistrate refers to judges who are part of the higher order courts in each country, that is, non-ordinary courts (higher courts of justice , constitutional and other similar bodies). It should be taken into account that in most nations (especially Western ones), the judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive powers, thus, in order to maintain the independence of justice, institutions were created for this purpose, for example, in Italy it would be the Superior Council of Magistracy, in the United States the Supreme Court and in Spain the Superior Court of Justice.
The magistrates who are part of these justice bodies have several abilities: they act as extraordinary courts to resolve an appeal in cassation, they pronounce legal disputes related to lower order courts, and they decide ultimately on matters of general interest.
The figure of the magistrate should not be confused with that of an ordinary judge, as both do not have the same capabilities that are based on different legal statutes. As a general idea, the judge is a single-person position that performs his activity in a given trial , while the magistrate performs his activity in a court of law.
The historical origin of magistrates
Greek civilization is based on the political independence of its cities or polis. In the case of the Athens polis, magistrates handled the administration of the city and were elected by a system of combined lottery through popular vote. The origin of these Greek political ideals was assumed by Roman civilization, in which the figure of the magistrate acquired a new dimension.
The magistrate or Roman magistratus was a public office with responsibilities in the organization of the state . There were several modalities: the consul, the praetor, the censor, the aedile curul, the tribune of the plebs, the aedile of the plebs and the questor. All of them had a specific function and as a whole formed the magistracy.
In the case of the tribune of the plebs, this magistrate was chosen directly by the popular classes (the plebs) and in this way he managed to ensure that the majority of the population had a legal representation, as the privileged classes (the patricians) had certain rights that were not within the reach of the majority (only the patricians could be head of the legions or have access to the magistracy, the Ius Honorum).
The attributions of the magistrates of Ancient Greece, more particularly in Rome, were decisive in consolidating the Roman Law. So, this is the legal conception present today.