Justice of the Peace

Justice of the Peace

Overview
A justice of the peace (JP) is a puisne
Puisne
Puisne is a legal term of art used mainly in British English meaning "inferior in rank." It is pronounced like the word puny, and the word, so spelled, has become an ordinary adjective meaning weak or undersized.The judges and barons of the common law courts at...

 judicial officer
Judicial officer
A judicial officer is a person with the responsibilities and powers to facilitate, arbitrate, preside over, and make decisions and directions in regard to the application of the law....

 elected or appointed by means of a commission (letters patent
Letters patent
Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch or president, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or corporation...

) to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice
Summary justice
Summary justice refers to the trial and punishment of suspected offenders without recourse to a more formal and protracted trial under the legal system...

 or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 jurisdictions. Justices of the peace are appointed or elected from the citizens of the jurisdiction in which they serve, and are (or were) usually not required to have a formal legal education in order to qualify for the office.
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Encyclopedia
A justice of the peace (JP) is a puisne
Puisne
Puisne is a legal term of art used mainly in British English meaning "inferior in rank." It is pronounced like the word puny, and the word, so spelled, has become an ordinary adjective meaning weak or undersized.The judges and barons of the common law courts at...

 judicial officer
Judicial officer
A judicial officer is a person with the responsibilities and powers to facilitate, arbitrate, preside over, and make decisions and directions in regard to the application of the law....

 elected or appointed by means of a commission (letters patent
Letters patent
Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch or president, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or corporation...

) to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice
Summary justice
Summary justice refers to the trial and punishment of suspected offenders without recourse to a more formal and protracted trial under the legal system...

 or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 jurisdictions. Justices of the peace are appointed or elected from the citizens of the jurisdiction in which they serve, and are (or were) usually not required to have a formal legal education in order to qualify for the office. Some jurisdictions have varying forms of training for JPs (for example Arizona, Victoria, and the United Kingdom).

History


In 1195, Richard I
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

 ("the Lionheart") of England commissioned certain knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

s to preserve the peace in unruly areas. They were responsible to the king for ensuring that the law was upheld, and preserved the "king's peace
King's peace
King's peace may refer to:*a term in Anglo-Saxon law*the Queen's peace in contemporary English law*Peace of Antalcidas, between Ancient Greek city-states and Persia*The King's Peace, a fantasy novel by Jo Walton...

", and were known as "keepers of the peace".

An act of 1327 had referred to "good and lawful men" to be appointed in every county in the land to "guard the peace"; such individuals were first referred to as conservators of the peace
Conservator of the Peace
A conservator of the peace is defined as a public official authorized to conserve and maintain the public peace.-Examples:Under common law, conservators of the peace included judges, police, sheriffs, and constables.The king is mentioned as the first...

, or wardens of the peace. The title "justice of the peace" derives from 1361, in the reign of King Edward III Plantagenet
Edward III of England
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe...

. The "peace" to be guarded is the "king's peace" or (currently) queen's peace
Queen's peace
The Queen's peace is the term used in the Commonwealth realms to describe the protection the monarch, in right of each state, provides to his or her subjects...

, the maintenance of which is the duty of the Crown
The Crown
The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

 under the royal prerogative
Royal Prerogative
The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity, recognized in common law and, sometimes, in civil law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy as belonging to the sovereign alone. It is the means by which some of the executive powers of government, possessed by and...

. Justices of the peace still use the power conferred or re-conferred on them in 1361 to bind over
Bind over
Bind over, binding over order or bind over for sentence is a legal term relating to a power exercised by magistrates in England and Wales and in other common law jurisdictions such as Hong Kong....

 unruly persons "to be of good behaviour." The bind over is not a punishment, but a preventive measure, intended to ensure that people thought likely to offend will not do so. The justices' alternative title of "magistrate
Magistrate
A magistrate is an officer 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...

" dates from the sixteenth century, although the word had been in use centuries earlier to describe some legal officials of Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 times.

The Municipal Corporations Act 1835
Municipal Corporations Act 1835
The Municipal Corporations Act 1835  – sometimes known as the Municipal Reform Act, was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed local government in the incorporated boroughs of England and Wales...

 stripped the power to appoint normal JPs from those municipal corporations that had it. This was replaced by the present system, where the Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

 nominates candidates with local advice, for appointment by the Crown
British monarchy
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

.

Until the introduction of elected county council
County council
A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries.-United Kingdom:...

s in the 19th century, JPs, in Quarter Sessions
Quarter Sessions
The Courts of Quarter Sessions or Quarter Sessions were local courts traditionally held at four set times each year in the United Kingdom and other countries in the former British Empire...

, also administered the county at a local level. They fixed wages, regulated food supplies, built and controlled roads and bridges, and undertook to provide and supervise locally those services mandated by the Crown and Parliament for the welfare of the county.

Being an unpaid office, undertaken more for the sake of renown and to confirm the justice's standing within the community, the justice was typically a member of the gentry
Gentry
Gentry denotes "well-born and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past....

. The Justices of the Peace conducted arraignment
Arraignment
Arraignment is a formal reading of a criminal complaint in the presence of the defendant to inform the defendant of the charges against him or her. In response to arraignment, the accused is expected to enter a plea...

s in all criminal cases, and tried misdemeanours and infractions of local ordinance
Local ordinance
A local ordinance is a law usually found in a municipal code.-United States:In the United States, these laws are enforced locally in addition to state law and federal law.-Japan:...

s and bylaw
Bylaw
By-law can refer to a law of local or limited application passed under the authority of a higher law specifying what things may be regulated by the by-law...

s. Towns and boroughs with enough burdensome judicial business that could not find volunteers for the unpaid role of Justice of the Peace had to petition the Crown for authority to hire a paid stipendiary magistrate.

In the centuries from the Tudor
Tudor dynasty
The Tudor dynasty or House of Tudor was a European royal house of Welsh origin that ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including the Lordship of Ireland, later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1485 until 1603. Its first monarch was Henry Tudor, a descendant through his mother of a legitimised...

 period until the onset of the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

, the JPs constituted a major element of the English (later British) government system, which had been termed sometimes squirearchy (i.e., dominance of the land-owning gentry
Gentry
Gentry denotes "well-born and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past....

). For example, historian Tim Blanning notes that while in Britain the royal prerogative was decisively curbed by the Bill of Rights 1689
Bill of Rights 1689
The Bill of Rights or the Bill of Rights 1688 is an Act of the Parliament of England.The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament on 16 December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689 ,...

, in practice the central government in London had a greater ability to get its policies implemented in the rural outlying regions than could contemporary absolute monarchies such as France – a paradox due especially to JPs belonging to the same social class as the Members of Parliament and thus having a direct interest in getting laws actually enforced and implemented on the ground.

Women in Britain were not allowed to become JPs until 1919, the first woman being Ada Summers, the Mayor of Stalybridge
Stalybridge
Stalybridge is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Tameside in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 22,568. Historically a part of Cheshire, it is east of Manchester city centre and northwest of Glossop. With the construction of a cotton mill in 1776, Stalybridge became one of...

, who was a JP by virtue of her office. Now in Britain 50% of JPs are women. Emily Murphy
Emily Murphy
Emily Murphy was a Canadian women's rights activist, jurist, and author. In 1916, she became the first woman magistrate in Canada, and in the British Empire...

 of Edmonton, Canada, preceded her by some three and a half years.

In special circumstances, a Justice of the Peace can be the highest governmental representative, so in fact 'gubernatorial', in a colonial entity. This was the case in the Tati Concessions Land
Tati Concessions Land
The Tati Concessions Land was a concession created in the borderlands of the Matabele kingdom and the Bechuanaland Protectorate. The concession was originally made by the Matabele King to Sir John Swinburne...

, a gold-mining concession (territory)
Concession (territory)
In international law, a concession is a territory within a country that is administered by an entity other than the state which holds sovereignty over it. This is usually a colonizing power, or at least mandated by one, as in the case of colonial chartered companies.Usually, it is conceded, that...

 in the Matabele kingdom
Matabeleland
Modern day Matabeleland is a region in Zimbabwe divided into three provinces: Matabeleland North, Bulawayo and Matabeleland South. These provinces are in the west and south-west of Zimbabwe, between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers. The region is named after its inhabitants, the Ndebele people...

, until its annexation by the British Bechuanaland protectorate.
See also: Justice of the peace (Russian Empire)

Australia


A justice of the peace in Australia is typically someone of good stature in the community who is authorised to witness and sign statutory declaration
Statutory declaration
A statutory declaration is a legal document defined under the law of certain Commonwealth nations. It is similar to a statement made under oath, however, it is not sworn....

s and affidavit
Affidavit
An affidavit is a written sworn statement of fact voluntarily made by an affiant or deponent under an oath or affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law. Such statement is witnessed as to the authenticity of the affiant's signature by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public...

s and to certify copies of original documents. Criteria for appointment vary widely, depending on the state. For example, in Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

, a justice of the peace (qualified) must complete an exam prior to being eligible for appointment, whereas in Victoria
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

, a person need only prove good character by way of references.

Generally speaking, a justice of the peace cannot act in relation to a document which is to be used in a foreign country. One exception to this, however, is that countries in the Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 frequently accept documents so certified, but this is largely dependent on local legislation.

Documents which are to be used in a foreign country that does not provide for a foreign JP to witness them should be dealt with by a notary public
Notary public
A notary public in the common law world is a public officer constituted by law to serve the public in non-contentious matters usually concerned with estates, deeds, powers-of-attorney, and foreign and international business...

. This is the same for all countries where the office of justice of the peace exists. Notaries public are often solicitors or barristers, and the best way to locate one is to contact your local law society
Law society
A Law Society in current and former Commonwealth jurisdictions was historically an association of solicitors with a regulatory role that included the right to supervise the training, qualifications and conduct of lawyers/solicitors...

.

Queensland


In the state of Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

, a "Justice of the Peace (qualified)" has the additional powers to issue search warrants, arrest warrants, justices examination order
Justices examination order
A Justices Examination Order is on order for psychiatric evaluation of an individual. The following information is relevant in the state of Queensland, Australia. Relevant procedures are defined in the Mental Health Act 2000....

s, and (in conjunction with another Justice of the Peace (qualified) constitute a magistrates' court
Magistrates' Court
A magistrates' court or court of petty sessions, formerly known as a police court, is the lowest level of court in England and Wales and many other common law jurisdictions...

 and exercise powers to remand defendants in custody, grant bail, and adjourn court hearings. A justice of the peace can also be consulted to file a Justice's Examination Order
Justices examination order
A Justices Examination Order is on order for psychiatric evaluation of an individual. The following information is relevant in the state of Queensland, Australia. Relevant procedures are defined in the Mental Health Act 2000....

, which compels psychiatric evaluation.

Some justices are appointed as Justice of the Peace (magistrates' court), usually in remote aboriginal
Indigenous Australians
Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands. The Aboriginal Indigenous Australians migrated from the Indian continent around 75,000 to 100,000 years ago....

 communities, to perform many of the functions that might otherwise fall to a stipendiary magistrate
Magistrate
A magistrate is an officer 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...

.

In Queensland, a Commissioner for Declarations (C.Dec) has powers limited to witnessing documents, witnessing statutory declarations, witnessing affidavits, witnessing and administering oaths and affirmations.

Victoria


Justices of the Peace and bail justices are appointed to serve a semi-judicial function in all areas of the Victorian community. The main official roles they play in the Victorian community include witnessing statutory declarations, witnessing affidavits and hearing bail matters outside court hours (bail justices only).

Justices of the peace

Justices of the peace (JPs) provide a service to the community as independent witnesses of statutory declarations, powers of attorney and affidavits. JPs are recommended by the state Attorney-General and appointed by the Governor-in-Council, and it is their job to authorise and witness statutory declarations and affidavits within the state of Victoria. There are currently more than 4,000 JPs serving in all areas of the state.

Bail justices

The role of a bail justice is to hear bail applications (under the Bail Act 1977) and to hear applications for interim accommodation orders for children (under the Children and Young Persons Act 1989) within Victoria. Bail justices, once appointed, may remain in their role until they turn 70 years of age (although they must be under 65 at the time of their appointment). They are often required to attend call outs and rule on bail applications or protection applications for children in danger on weekends and late at night when the courts are closed, but they can also witness Victorian statutory declarations and affidavits. Candidates must successfully complete a three-day training course run by Victoria Police, the Magistrates' Court, and the Department of Justice. Bail justices also have some limited powers under federal legislation, including the power to conduct interstate extradition hearings and extending question time for federal police.

Source: http://www.justice.vic.gov.au/

New South Wales


Justices of the Peace perform few judicial functions, if any, in New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

. Those justices employed by the Attorney-General's Department can issue some kinds of warrant, and perform minor judicial functions such as granting bail outside normal court sitting hours. These powers are increasingly being transferred to Registrars of the Local Court
Local Court of New South Wales
There are over 160 Local Courts in New South Wales. Local Court cases are heard by a magistrate without a jury. It hears summary offences as well as indictable offences and committal hearings. It hears civil claims up to $100,000 and has a Small Claims Division for claims less than $10,000. It...

, who (usually, but not always) have legal qualifications.

This aspect aside, Justice of the Peace in NSW typically receive statutory declaration
Statutory declaration
A statutory declaration is a legal document defined under the law of certain Commonwealth nations. It is similar to a statement made under oath, however, it is not sworn....

s and affidavits – primarily administrative tasks.

Justices of the peace can be located in courthouses, municipal councils, and many public service offices. Previously a lifetime appointment, the term was limited to five years from 8 December 2003 at which time all previous lifetime appointments lapsed.

South Australia


In South Australia, there are two types of justices: Justice of the Peace and special justices.

A Justice of the Peace (JP) in South Australia is typically someone of good stature in the community who is authorised to witness and sign statutory declaration
Statutory declaration
A statutory declaration is a legal document defined under the law of certain Commonwealth nations. It is similar to a statement made under oath, however, it is not sworn....

s, affidavit
Affidavit
An affidavit is a written sworn statement of fact voluntarily made by an affiant or deponent under an oath or affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law. Such statement is witnessed as to the authenticity of the affiant's signature by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public...

s, waiver rights, search warrants, drug warrants, divorce documents, and to certify copies of original documents and to witness the signing of power of attorney
Power of attorney
A power of attorney or letter of attorney is a written authorization to represent or act on another's behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter...

 and guardianship documents, providing the JP is satisfied with the capability of the signatory.

A Special Justice (SJ) is a higher level of Justice of the Peace in South Australia; they sit casually on the bench of the magistrates' court
Magistrates' Court
A magistrates' court or court of petty sessions, formerly known as a police court, is the lowest level of court in England and Wales and many other common law jurisdictions...

 hearing cases in the petty division.

The South Australian Attorney-General has set up a web site to locate Justices of the Peace: http://jp.agd.sa.gov.au/JPPublicWeb/. The majority of metropolitan and many regional Councils (Local Government authorities) have a rotational Justice of the Peace in residence at nominated times.

Belgium


In Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 the Justice of the peace
Justice of the peace (Belgium)
The Justice of the Peace in Belgium is the small claims court in the Belgian judicial system.-Organisation & competences:Belgium is divided in 225 judicial cantons, each with its own justice of the peace....

 is the small claims court, with competence in civil, commercial and family law.

Canada


In Canada, Justice of the Peace (Justices) play a key role in the administration of justice at the provincial level. Justices are appointed by the lieutenant governors of Canada's provinces, and by the commissioners of Canada's territories, on the advice of their relevant premier
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 or Attorney General
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

.

Canada is a vast country and Justices are often the only magistrates in some regions. In the Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

, Justices are regularly assigned to hear federal crimes. However, in more populated provinces Justices usually preside over bail hearings and provincial offences courts. When not in a court session, a Justice can perform other judicial functions, such as issuing search warrants.

In Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Justices perform a wide variety of duties related to criminal and regulatory law, at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. Current information on the role of a Justice in Ontario can be found at role of Justices in Ontario. Information on qualifications and selection criteria can be found at Qualifications for Justices in Ontario.

In British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

, pursuant to the Provincial Court Act, all judges are Justices of the Peace, and hence all of them are Peace Officer
Peace officer
A law enforcement officer , in North America, is any public-sector employee or agent whose duties involve the enforcement of laws. The phrase can include police officers, prison officers, customs officers, immigration officers, bailiffs, probation officers, parole officers, auxiliary officers, and...

s.

Canada holds the distinction of having made the first appointment in the then British Empire of a woman as a magistrate, namely Emily Murphy
Emily Murphy
Emily Murphy was a Canadian women's rights activist, jurist, and author. In 1916, she became the first woman magistrate in Canada, and in the British Empire...

, who was sworn in as a police magistrate in the Women's Court of the City of Edmonton (Alberta) on 19 June, 1916.

Hong Kong


In Hong Kong, the historical functions of Justices of the Peace have been replaced by full-time, legally qualified magistrates. Nowadays, Justices of the Peace are essentially titles of honour given by the Government to community leaders, and to certain officials while they are in their terms of offices. They have no judicial functions, and their main duties include visiting prisons, institutions for young offenders and drug addicts, psychiatric hospitals, remand homes, places of refuge, reception and detention centres, administering statutory declarations, and serving as members of advisory panels.

India


In India, Justices of the Peace do exist http://www.mppolice.gov.in/static/IPC%20and%20CrPC/IPC/chapter21.htm, but they no longer occupy a prominent post. Among the famous JPs were Diwan Bahadur-Pranimitra Shri.Jayantilal N. Mankar (Mankad) www.ivu.org, Kavasji Jamshedji Petigara.

Ireland


Justices of the peace existed in Ireland prior to 1922, sitting in a bench under the supervision of resident magistrates at Petty Sessions to try minor offences summarily, and with a County Court
County Court
A county court is a court based in or with a jurisdiction covering one or more counties, which are administrative divisions within a country, not to be confused with the medieval system of county courts held by the High Sheriff of each county.-England and Wales:County Court matters can be lodged...

 Judge (in his capacity of Chairman of Quarter Sessions) and jury to try more serious offences at Quarter Sessions
Quarter Sessions
The Courts of Quarter Sessions or Quarter Sessions were local courts traditionally held at four set times each year in the United Kingdom and other countries in the former British Empire...

. In the Irish Free State the position was effectively abolished by the District Justices (Temporary Provisions) Act 1923 and permanently abolished by the Courts of Justice Act 1924
Courts of Justice Act 1924
The Courts of Justice Act, 1924 was an Act of the Oireachtas that established the courts system of the Irish Free State pursuant to the Constitution of the Irish Free State...

. Their judicial powers were replaced by full time, legally qualified District Justices
District court
District courts are a category of courts which exists in several nations. These include:-Australia:District Court is the name given to the intermediate court in most Australian States. They hear indictable criminal offences excluding treason, murder and, in some States, manslaughter...

 (now called District Judges) and their quasi judicial powers by lay peace commissioners
Peace Commissioner
Peace Commissioner is discretionary appointment in Ireland by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The title replaced Justice of the Peace in 1923. Peace commissioners are primarily used to witness signatures on documents, take statutory declarations and sign certificates and orders....

. Peace commissioners may sign statutory declarations and affidavits, and may issue search warrants to the Garda Síochána
Garda Síochána
, more commonly referred to as the Gardaí , is the police force of Ireland. The service is headed by the Commissioner who is appointed by the Irish Government. Its headquarters are located in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.- Terminology :...

 (Irish police).

Jamaica


A Justice of the Peace (JP), according to the Ministry of Justice, is a person of unquestionable integrity who seeks to promote and protect the rights of the individual and helps to provide justice to persons in a particular community. Additionally, the JP serves as a justice in petty court sessions, attends juvenile court sessions, issues summonses, considers applications for bail, explains and signs legal documents, sits on licensing panels, and gives counsel/advice. Any Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

n citizen that can speak and write English is eligible to become a JP. Any club/organisation/citizen can recommend someone to become JP for a community. JPs are chosen under the Governor-General
Governor-General
A Governor-General, is a vice-regal person of a monarch in an independent realm or a major colonial circonscription. Depending on the political arrangement of the territory, a Governor General can be a governor of high rank, or a principal governor ranking above "ordinary" governors.- Current uses...

's discretion.

Malaysia


In Malaysia, Justices of the Peace have largely been replaced in magistrates' courts by legally qualified (first-class) stipendiary magistrates. However, state governments continue to appoint Justices of the Peace as honours. In 2004, some associations of Justices of the Peace pressed the federal government to allow Justices of the Peace to sit as second-class magistrates in order to reduce the backlog of cases in the courts.

New Zealand


A Justice of the Peace in New Zealand is someone of good stature in the community who is authorized to witness and sign statutory declaration
Statutory declaration
A statutory declaration is a legal document defined under the law of certain Commonwealth nations. It is similar to a statement made under oath, however, it is not sworn....

s and affidavit
Affidavit
An affidavit is a written sworn statement of fact voluntarily made by an affiant or deponent under an oath or affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law. Such statement is witnessed as to the authenticity of the affiant's signature by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public...

s.

They also have certain powers to issue search warrants, and (in conjunction with another Justice of the Peace) may try minor criminal trials in the district court and exercise powers to remand defendants in custody, grant bail, and adjourn court hearings. They are nominated for office by local Members of Parliament.

Singapore


A Justice of the Peace in Singapore derives his powers from statute law. He is appointed by the President of the Republic of Singapore, under the provisions of section 11(l) of the Subordinate Courts Act (Cap.321). The President may revoke the appointment of any Justice of the Peace. A newly appointed Justice of the Peace is required by section 17 of the Subordinate Courts Act, to take the oath of office and allegiance as set out in the Schedule to the Subordinate Courts Act, before exercising the functions of his office.

Sri Lanka


Justice of the Peace (JP) is an honorary post, with authorization to witness and sign statutory declaration
Statutory declaration
A statutory declaration is a legal document defined under the law of certain Commonwealth nations. It is similar to a statement made under oath, however, it is not sworn....

s and affidavit
Affidavit
An affidavit is a written sworn statement of fact voluntarily made by an affiant or deponent under an oath or affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law. Such statement is witnessed as to the authenticity of the affiant's signature by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public...

s. JPs are chosen under the Minister of Justice's discretion. Any citizen of Sri Lanka can apply to the Ministry of Justice giving his or her credentials to be appointed as a Justice of the Peace. However, the applicant should be one who has served the public and carries out social service and should be of good standing. The Cabinet Secretary is an ex officio Justice of the Peace for the district of Colombo.

England and Wales


A magistrates' court
Magistrates' Court
A magistrates' court or court of petty sessions, formerly known as a police court, is the lowest level of court in England and Wales and many other common law jurisdictions...

 in England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

 is composed of a bench
Bench (law)
Bench in legal contexts means simply the location in a courtroom where a judge sits. The historical roots of that meaning come from the fact that judges formerly sat on long seats or benches when presiding over a court...

 of (usually three) JPs or magistrates, who dispense summary justice
Summary offence
A summary offence is a criminal act in some common law jurisdictions that can be proceeded with summarily, without the right to a jury trial and/or indictment .- United States :...

: that is they decide on offences which carry up to six months in prison, to a maximum of a year of imprisonment over not less than two indictable offences. They are advised on points of law and procedure by a legally qualified Justices' Clerk
Justices' clerk
A justices' clerk is an official of the magistrates' court in England and Wales whose primary role is to provide legal advice to justices of the peace .- History :...

 and their assistants. No formal qualifications are required but magistrates need intelligence, common sense, integrity and the capacity to act fairly. Membership is widely spread throughout the local area and drawn from all walks of life. All magistrates are carefully trained before sitting and continue to receive training throughout their service. Magistrates are unpaid volunteers but they may receive allowances to cover travelling expenses and subsistence. Lay justices or magistrates must sit for a minimum of 26 sessions (half-days) per year, but some sit as much as a day a week, or possibly more.

In addition to the lay justices, there are a small number of district judges (magistrates' court
Magistrates' Court
A magistrates' court or court of petty sessions, formerly known as a police court, is the lowest level of court in England and Wales and many other common law jurisdictions...

)
, formerly known as stipendiary magistrates. These are legally qualified, full-time members of the magistracy and hear cases alone, without any other magistrates on the bench. It is important to distinguish the district judge (magistrates' court) from the district judges who usually sit in the county court.

Magistrates' courts today can deal with minor offences (fines of up to £15,000, and imprisonment of up to 9 months or 15 months for consecutive sentences) and handle over 95% of the criminal cases in England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

 and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

. With more serious offences, magistrates are responsible for indictment and committal to the Crown Court
Crown Court
The Crown Court of England and Wales is, together with the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal, one of the constituent parts of the Senior Courts of England and Wales...

 (a task in former times dealt with by a grand jury
Grand jury
A grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether a criminal indictment will issue. Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing...

). Magistrates also have a civil jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

, such as a family jurisdiction. Although they had a licensing jurisdiction dealing liquor, betting and clubs licensing applications, this was transferred under the Licensing Act 2003
Licensing Act 2003
The Licensing Act of 2003 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that applies only to England and Wales. The Act establishes a single integrated scheme for licensing premises which are used for the sale or supply of alcohol, to provide regulated entertainment, or to provide late night...

 to local authorities. The Magistrates now act in licensing matters only as an appeal court from the decisions of the local authority.

Cardiff Magistrates Court is the only court in the country which deals with offences under the Companies Act, such as for late filing of accounts or directors offences. Westminster Magistrates Court has special responsibilities for dealing with all terrorism and extradition offences throughout the UK

Until the Courts Act 2003
Courts Act 2003
The Courts Act 2003 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom implementing many of the recommendations in Sir Robin Auld's in England and Wales...

 came into force, magistrates were tied to a particular area (see Magistrates' Courts' Committees
Magistrates' courts' committees
From 1949 to 2005, magistrates' courts' committees had overall responsibility for management of the magistrates' courts service within their areas in England and Wales.-Origin:...

, commission area, petty sessions area). This has now been changed such that they are assigned to local justice areas
Local justice areas
Local justice areas are units in England and Wales established by the Courts Act 2003, replacing and directly based on the previous petty sessions areas. They have been in existence since 2005....

, but less strongly.

The Courts Act provides the current framework for appointment of the justices, which is done by the Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

 in the name of Her Majesty
British monarchy
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

. Justices can also be removed by the same mechanism. District Judges (Magistrates' Court) – previously known as Stipendiary Magistrates – must have a 7 years' general legal qualification, and are appointed by Her Majesty on the advice of the Lord Chancellor.

Before 1714, magistrates were liable to be approached at any time and in any place by people legally recognised as paupers, appealing for aid if parish authorities refused to provide any. It was relatively common for these magistrates to write out, on the spot, an Order requiring aid to be granted.

Scotland


Within the Scottish legal system Justices of the Peace are lay magistrates who currently sit in the Justice of the Peace Courts. These courts were introduced in 2009 as a replacement for the District Courts (established in 1975), which in turn replaced burgh police courts. Justices sit alone or in threes with a qualified legal assessor as convener or clerk of court. They handle many cases of breaches of the peace, drunkenness, minor assaults, petty theft, and offences under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. By 2011 the system of District Courts had been entirely replaced by Justice of the Peace Courts.

In Glasgow, the volume of business requires the employment of three solicitors as "stipendiary magistrates" who sit in place of the lay justices. The stipendiary magistrates' court has the same sentencing power as the summary sheriff court. However, in 2006, the Scottish Government announced its intention to unify the management of the sheriff and district courts in Scotland, but retaining lay justices, as part of its initiative to create a unified judiciary under the Lord President
Lord President of the Court of Session
The Lord President of the Court of Session is head of the judiciary in Scotland, and presiding judge of the College of Justice and Court of Session, as well as being Lord Justice General of Scotland and head of the High Court of Justiciary, the offices having been combined in 1836...

; the Justice of the Peace Courts were implimented by Sheriffdom by Sheriffdom basis.

Northern Ireland


In Northern Ireland, the situation inititally continued as it had in pre-1922 Ireland. However, justices of the peace no longer sat out of petty sessions after 1935 (Summary Jurisdiction and Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1935). Since then, Magistrates' Courts in Northern Ireland have consisted of legally-qualified Resident Magistrates (now known as District Judges (Magistrates' Courts)) sitting alone, except in cases involving children, where two lay panelists sat with the magistrate. Justices of the peace were confined to the power to conduct committal hearings, bind persons over to the peace, sign warrants, summons, and other official documents. They were appointed by the Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

 on the recommendation of a committee in each County Court Division.

The Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 introduced a new office of Lay Magistrate, to sit alongside resident magistrates at magistrates' courts in certain matters. Unlike in England and Wales, "Lay Magistrate" is the official title of the position, to distingish from existing justices of the peace who do not sit in the Magistrates' Courts. The first Lay Magistrates were appointed in 2005. Two lay magistrates sit with the District Judge (Magistrates' Court) in criminal proceedings involving children (replacing the former lay panelists) and Family Proceedings Court matters. The District Judge (Magistrates' Court), who is a barrister or solicitor of at least seven years standing, presides over the bench. Most criminal justice functions of JPs were transferred to lay magistrates. It is expected that there will be no further appointments of justices of the peace in Northern Ireland, although those already appointed retain the title and any functions not transferred to lay magistrate under the 2002 Act.

United States


In some US states, the Justice of the Peace is a judge of a court
Court
A court is a form of tribunal, often a governmental institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law...

 of limited jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

, a magistrate
Magistrate
A magistrate is an officer 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...

, or a quasi-judicial official with certain statutory or common law magisterial powers.

The Justice of the Peace typically presides over a court that hears misdemeanor
Misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences...

 cases, traffic violations, and other petty criminal infractions. The Justice of the Peace may also have authority over cases involving small debt
Debt
A debt is an obligation owed by one party to a second party, the creditor; usually this refers to assets granted by the creditor to the debtor, but the term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value.A debt is created when a...

s, landlord
Landlord
A landlord is the owner of a house, apartment, condominium, or real estate which is rented or leased to an individual or business, who is called a tenant . When a juristic person is in this position, the term landlord is used. Other terms include lessor and owner...

 and tenant
Leasehold estate
A leasehold estate is an ownership of a temporary right to land or property in which a lessee or a tenant holds rights of real property by some form of title from a lessor or landlord....

 disputes, or other small claims court
Small claims court
Small-claims courts have limited jurisdiction to hear civil cases between private litigants. Courts authorized to try small claims may also have other judicial functions, and the name by which such a court is known varies by jurisdiction; it may be known as a county or magistrate's court...

 proceedings. Proceedings before Justices of the Peace are often faster and less formal than the proceedings in other courts. In some jurisdictions a party convicted or found liable before a Justice of the Peace may have the right to a trial de novo
Trial de novo
In law, the expression trial de novo means a "new trial" by a different tribunal...

 before the judge of a higher court rather than an appeal strictly considered.

A justice of the peace also performs civil marriage
Civil marriage
Civil marriage is marriage performed by a government official and not a religious organization.-History:Every country maintaining a population registry of its residents keeps track of marital status, and most countries believe that it is their responsibility to register married couples. Most...

s. While states generally recognize marriages applied for under any relevant statutes and officiated under a religious leader or equivalent authority with adequate witnesses present, a justice of the peace can typically oversee a marriage union directly.

Some states have special qualifications or unique features for the office.

Arizona


A justice of the peace has the same jurisdiction as a municipal magistrate with respect to traffic and [misdemeanor] cases and restraining orders. Additionally, the Justice Court hears civil law suits up to a limit of $10,000, small claims cases up to $2,500, and issues evictions, called writs of restitution (after a forcible detainer or special detainer action (eviction) being successfully completed by a landlord). Justices of the Peace, also called JP's of the Justice Court, are elected in partisan elections for four year terms from specific districts called precincts. They have the same authority and responsibility as all other judges in the state with respect to performing marriages, administrating oaths, adhering to the code of judicial conduct, and all aspects of justice administration. However, Arizona law doesn't require justices of the peace to be lawyers. Many justices of the peace are not legally trained, although all are required by the Arizona Supreme Court to complete a course at the Arizona Judicial College. As with JPs, municipal judges in Arizona are not required to be lawyers.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont


Justices of the Peace in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are often called on to perform marriages and, especially, same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

s which certain religious officials are not willing to oversee. Justices of the Peace in Connecticut can preside over same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

s. Unlike Massachusetts, Connecticut JPs are not penalized for refusing to perform such ceremonies.

Justices of the Peace in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont have the same general oath-giving powers as a notary public.

New Hampshire


New Hampshire Justices of the Peace are commissioned magisterial officers, appointed by the Governor and Executive Council to terms of five years, with the power to administer oaths, acknowledge instruments, perform marriage ceremonies and, effective January 1, 2008, solemnize civil unions for same-sex couples. They may also order compulsory mental examinations for good cause, act as a magisterial official regarding enforcement complaints on orders for isolation or quarantine issued by the Commissioner of Health and Human Services, administer oaths of office to public officials, take depositions and issue subpoenas. New Hampshire Justices of the Peace are also authorized, upon a showing of probable cause supported by affidavit, to issue arrest warrants, search warrants, administrative inspection warrants and by court appointment, to fix and receive bail in criminal cases.

Arkansas


A Justice of the Peace is an elected official equivalent to a county commissioner or county supervisor. Arkansas JPs sit on a county quorum court, composed of 9, 11, 13 or 15 JPs. The quorum court is a part-time body, elected from single-member districts, that has overall responsibility for county affairs. Among their responsibilities are passing the budget, creating new ordinances (at the misdemeanor level), setting property tax millage levels, and working with other elected officials. The full-time elected county administrator, who presides over the quorum court, is the county judge. Neither JPs nor the county judge have any judicial authority, though they do have the power to preside over civil marriages. Justices of the Peace are elected every two years to these partisan offices.

Replacement of justice of the peace courts by other courts


In many states, the office of justice of the peace has been abolished or transferred to another court, such as the magistrate
Magistrate
A magistrate is an officer 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...

 court. In larger cities, cases may be heard in a municipal court which has jurisdiction only within that city. Most efforts to abolish the office of Justice of the Peace have been led by the American Bar Association
American Bar Association
The American Bar Association , founded August 21, 1878, is a voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students, which is not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States. The ABA's most important stated activities are the setting of academic standards for law schools, and the formulation...

, which views non-lawyer judges as no longer necessary, as there are now far more persons with formal legal education than in the past when Justices of the Peace were first used.

California formerly had Justice of the Peace courts staffed by lay judges, but began phasing them out after a landmark 1974 decision in which the Supreme Court of California
Supreme Court of California
The Supreme Court of California is the highest state court in California. It is headquartered in San Francisco and regularly holds sessions in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Its decisions are binding on all other California state courts.-Composition:...

 unanimously held that it was a violation of federal due process (under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

) to allow a non-lawyer to preside over a criminal trial which could result in incarceration of the defendant. The Court specifically recognized that in the aftermath of Gideon v. Wainwright
Gideon v. Wainwright
Gideon v. Wainwright, , is a landmark case in United States Supreme Court history. In the case, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that state courts are required under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who are unable to afford their own...

(1963), it made no sense to allow a case to be tried before a layperson incapable of understanding the legal arguments of the attorney to whom the defendant was entitled under Gideon. The remaining justice courts (as well as municipal courts) were eliminated by the passage of Proposition 220 in June 1998, which merged all lower courts within the state judicial branch into the superior courts
Superior Courts of California
The Superior Courts of California are the superior courts in the U.S. state of California with general jurisdiction to hear and decide any civil or criminal action which is not specially designated to be heard in some other court or before a government agency...

 (the courts of general jurisdiction). Under current California law, all California judges must be licensed attorneys.

Notably, the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 sharply disagreed with California's analysis of the Fourteenth Amendment in the landmark case of North v. Russell
North v. Russell
North v. Russell, , is a United States Supreme Court case which held that a non-lawyer jurist can constitutionally sit in a jail-carrying criminal case provided that the defendant have an opportunity through an appeal to obtain a second trial before a judge who is a lawyer.-Background:In the...

, , in which the Court held that Kentucky's use of nonlawyer judges in its police courts was not a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection of the laws.

See also

  • District Courts of Scotland
    District Courts of Scotland
    A District Court was the least authoritative type of criminal court in Scotland. The court operated under summary procedure and dealt primarily with minor criminal offences...

  • Notary public
    Notary public
    A notary public in the common law world is a public officer constituted by law to serve the public in non-contentious matters usually concerned with estates, deeds, powers-of-attorney, and foreign and international business...

  • Magistrate
    Magistrate
    A magistrate is an officer 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...

  • Courts of Canada
  • Justice Courts (New York)
  • Solicitor General (disambiguation)
  • Peace Commissioner
    Peace Commissioner
    Peace Commissioner is discretionary appointment in Ireland by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The title replaced Justice of the Peace in 1923. Peace commissioners are primarily used to witness signatures on documents, take statutory declarations and sign certificates and orders....

    the office that replaced Justice of the Peace in Ireland