Justice of the Peace
A JP can be appointed or often as not, is elected by the local community in a manner very similar to the appointment or election of a Dog Catcher.
To be eligible to hold the office of justice of the peace, a person must:
- be a citizen of the United States
- be at least 18 years of age on the day the term starts or on the date of appointment
- not have been determined mentally incompetent by a final judgment of a court
- not have been finally convicted of a felony from which the person has not been pardoned or otherwise released from the resulting disabilities
- as a general rule, have resided continually in the State for one year and in the precinct for the preceding six months; and
- must not have been declared ineligible for the office
- No Legal knowledge is required but should have passed the third grade
Justices are required to complete an 80-hour course in the performance of their duties within one year of being elected and a 20-hour course each succeeding year.
Graduating from Grade School is not a requirement and in general the three hardest years in a Justice of the Peace’s education is the third grade.
If the person wearing the Robes looks somewhat like an “Inbreed” chances are he or she is a Justice of the Peace. Being recently released from a mental institute does not disqualify a person from acting as Justice of the Peace under the mentally incompetent part.
NOTE: A Justice of the Peace need never have set foot into any Law school, nor does he have to have even a basic knowledge of the US Constitution other then the second amendment allowing his or her kinfolk the right to bear arms, guns and such.
True! In jurisdictions where they use a Justice of the Peace the Dog Catcher can and does perform marriages. My friend Tom Snyder got married by the Dog Catcher in Cuba, Missouri and the wedding was 100% legal. Equate Justice of the Peace with Dog Catcher.
At trial, in general, there is no record made of the proceedings. You have the right to appeal for a new trial in front of a real Judge. Because there is no record made and because of constitutional law allowing for these creatures to hear cases your right to a new trial is guaranteed if you disagree with the ruling.
The only thing that baffles a JP is when he grants a divorce. “Is they still brother and sister after the divorce?”
Ok, so you may think it is a trial. With a good defense you have less then a 30/70 chance. The good part is that you can appeal to a trial by a real Judge in circuit court if you loose. Being related to the Justice of the Peace will always get you off. Argue to your hearts content and don't be intimidated. Whenever he says something to the effect:
- That is not important
- I take the officers word for it
- It is not necessary
- I don't care about case law
SAY: "With all due respect, a real Judge would consider it important." You can't go wrong by saying it and he can't throw you in jail for contempt. Only a real judge can do that. It does put him or her on notice though that you are not afraid of her or her nonsense.
Of all the people to be tried by a Justice of the Peace is the worst. During the Arraignment, if you know that the trial is going to be by a Justice of the Peace ask for a Jury Trial. This is the only time I recommend asking for a Jury Trial because it takes the trial away from the Justice of the Peace and must be heard in circuit court in front of a real Judge where you have a good chance of winning.
REMEMBER: I you accept his or her ruling; that ruling is final unless you disagree with it. Your appeal is not on the merits of the case but on the disagreement with the ruling. No record of the proceeding exists and as such you can not appeal on the record. You appeal on the ruling for a new trial in front of a real Judge in the appropriate circuit court.