For Great Justice

My name is Jessamyn West. I was elected Justice of the Peace in Randolph Vermont on November 6, 2012. My term started February 1st, 2013 and lasts for three years. Do you need a Vermont JP?

More information on what a VT Justice of the Peace does (pdf)

Aug 13

first ceremony - text

Thank you all for coming…. We are gathered here today to witness the marriage of these two people, Rich & Rachel, who stand before you in love, in trust, in joy and in hope. They ask us to be present with them and to rejoice in their companionship and their love.

Love is not meant to be the possession of two people alone. It serves as a source of common energy, as a form in which you find the strength to live your lives with courage. It’s the original perpetual motion machine once you set it going. Its energy sustains families, communities and ultimately the world. It’s a great thing you’ve got here. From this day onward, you will come closer together than ever before; you will carry on loving one another in sickness and health, for better and for worse, when you’re close and when you’re far away.

Your love also gives you the strength to stand apart, to seek out your unique destinies, to make your special contributions to the world. It is a thing which is always part of us… and more than us. On this day of your marriage, you stand within the charmed circle of your great love and the greater circle of those who love you.

  • Reading 1 Rich Fairbanks (personal recollection)
  • Reading 2 Rachel Westbook (Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog by Taylor Mali)
  • Reading 3 Seth Westbrook (excerpt from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis de Bernières)
  • Reading 4 Jessamyn West (Union by Robert Fulghum)

Please repeat these vows after me

I, _____________, take you, ______________, to be my wife/husband.

I give you my hand and my heart.

I pledge to share my life openly with you and to speak loving truth to you.

I promise to respect and honor you, care for you in tenderness, support you with patience and love, and walk with you through all the seasons of our lives.

Will you Rich Fairbanks have Rachel Westbrook to be united as one in your civil marriage?

Will you Rachel Westbrook have Rich Fairbanks to be united as one in your civil marriage?

[to guests/friends/family] Do you promise to support Rich & Rachel, to give them the wisdom of your counsel, the loyalty of your heart, the fairness of your mind and the walking of their dogs?

By the authority vested in me by the voters of Randolph & the state of Vermont, I pronounce you husband and wife. Congratulations.


First wedding! It went well! More photos from the wedding day.

Rich & Rachel 10aug13

First wedding! It went well! More photos from the wedding day.

Rich & Rachel 10aug13


Mar 6

A big giant day full of democracy here in Randolph Vermont. I spent the morning at Town Meeting then scooted to the gym and came back in time to staff the polls for a few hours and then counted votes for an hour, making sure the numbers matched and that all the write-ins were tabulated. A good time. Next time I’ll bring snacks. (and yeah I guess that’s the only sweater I ever wear, huh?) My other photos from Town Meeting are here.


Feb 1

voting, now and then

The JP job has a lot more to do with voting than marrying. That is, if you don’t want to, you don’t really have to marry anyone, but part of the gig is checking voter registrations, being present at the polls, delivering ballots to people who can’t be at the polls, and counting write-in votes.

I’ve been digging through the pile of paperwork I got at the Board of Civil Authority meeting (a board I was not on when I went, but I am on now) and it’s mostly straightforward stuff. I’m surprised, as always, just how much of this stuff really is codified and written down. Only sort of related, I found this book on Open Library that talks about how soldiers voted when they were off fighting the Civil War. Sort of interesting if you’re nerdy about this sort of thing. If you, too, are interested check out Voting in the Field, a forgotten chapter of the Civil War.


It’s official!

Since it is now February I am now a Justice of the Peace. Feels mostly the same so far. I’ve amended the header text on this blog. I can now marry anyone who wants to be married in the State of Vermont. From the Board of Civil Authority meeting last night it appears that the majority of my time will be spent counting write-in ballots after Town Meeting next month.


Jan 30
I went to my first meeting of the Board of Civil Authority. I am not official yet but this was just to get a feel for what happens. I have homework: read this stuff. Apparently I am the only person in the entire world who does not know the guy who runs the meeting. There were no introductions. All they did was looked at the voter registrations to make sure they all looked kosher and chose slots for who would staff the polls for the school budget vote for next week. I offered to be the “Democrat” who would go deliver ballots to folks who needed one brought to their home since you need one person from each party. It was a fun and short meeting. I was the youngest one there by at least ten years.

I went to my first meeting of the Board of Civil Authority. I am not official yet but this was just to get a feel for what happens. I have homework: read this stuff. Apparently I am the only person in the entire world who does not know the guy who runs the meeting. There were no introductions. All they did was looked at the voter registrations to make sure they all looked kosher and chose slots for who would staff the polls for the school budget vote for next week. I offered to be the “Democrat” who would go deliver ballots to folks who needed one brought to their home since you need one person from each party. It was a fun and short meeting. I was the youngest one there by at least ten years.


Jan 29
Welcome aboard! Bring armor. The Town Clerk’s response to me when I dropped off my paperwork and asked if there was anything else I needed to know before the Board of Civil Authority meeting tomorrow.

Jan 26
Sworn in! Since my first day on the job is February 1st and I have a Board of Civil Authority meeting on Wednesday, I figured I should get this all taken care of. This is my friend (and also Town Moderator and lawyer) Kelly Green who swore me in. You have the option of swearing in on a bible or just “under penalty of perjury” I chose the latter and we filled out some paperwork and once I submit it to the Town Clerk I’ll be official come February first. There is a long and venerable tradition of people being sworn in at night on an ad hoc basis in Vermont.

Sworn in! Since my first day on the job is February 1st and I have a Board of Civil Authority meeting on Wednesday, I figured I should get this all taken care of. This is my friend (and also Town Moderator and lawyer) Kelly Green who swore me in. You have the option of swearing in on a bible or just “under penalty of perjury” I chose the latter and we filled out some paperwork and once I submit it to the Town Clerk I’ll be official come February first. There is a long and venerable tradition of people being sworn in at night on an ad hoc basis in Vermont.


Jan 1

Wishing you great peace and great justice in 2013

I’m going to dial it back a little bit in 2013. The daily posts have been great fun but the pickings are slim until I actually start my post in February (and maybe even after that). Feel free to send on suggested links/images to me, my first name at the gmail machine.


Dec 31

frontier justice(s)

image

So San Diego was a place before it was a place in the United States. Most people know this What I did not know was how the governmental system worked in places that were sort of becoming part of the US and sort of part of another country. A peek into the digital archives of the University of Southern California finds this neat letter (original written in Spanish but with a translation written in English afterwards) where the JP of San Diego in 1836 writes to the folks in Los Angeles to ask why they’re incommunicado. Based on this Wikipedia page, I believe the translation of the JPs name is wrong and the letter is actually from Santiago Argüello the last full-time Commandant of the area and the second Justice of the Peace (Juez de Paz).


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