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...
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.
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.
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.
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...
Certificates of Freedom
One of the historical jobs Justices of the Peace would sometimes do in the course of their duties was to issue certificates of freedom. These were papers that black people would have to carry on them in many states to ensure that they would not be harassed as runaway slaves. Since this was pre-photography in many cases, there would be descriptions of the people carrying the papers to make sure...
quirky little not-justice stuff
So some days people send me things for this blog and other times I just do some idle Googling while things are slow at MetaFilter. So I look for things like the phrase “Justice of the peace” juxtaposed with words like crazy, funny, weird, interesting, etc. I’m not even sure what I was looking for the other day when I found this Wikipedia page about Conservators of the Peace....
In Queensland Australia there are two main types of Justices of the Peace. The one kind is called Justice of the Peace (Qualified) which sort of calls into question what the other kind is called…. which is C.decs (commissioner of declarations). The second type are just for getting your document signatures witnessed. The other sort have a small amount of training, or qualifications. when...
a solstice message from another Vermont JP
Filling in a few blanks here with some timely JP tales, this one is from Susan Beal, another VT JP and the editor of Planet Vermont. [T]hat is what this season is meant to remind us of. Forgiveness is not a behavior, but an expansion of awareness beyond the duality of guilt and blame, right and wrong. It is not an excuse for inaction during times of crisis or wrongdoing, but a request for...
blogging from the bench?
Apparently “courts and tribunal judicial office holders in England and Wales” have received instructions about what they can and can’t talk about when and if they blog. Specifically, it notes that Blogging by members of the judiciary is not prohibited. However, officer holders who blog (or who post comments on other people’s blogs) must not identify themselves as members of...
Henry VII's mom, justice of the peace?
This somewhat difficult to follow bit in The Living Age from 1855 seems to imply so. I think.
The complicated Maine JP problem
Maine doesn’t have Justices of the peace, not really. In the State of Maine’s words The old-fashioned Justice of the Peace, who hung out a shingle and married people and performed minor judicial duties, no longer exists in Maine. However, reality is even more complicated. Thanks to what they call “a constitutional problem” the office formerly called Complaint...
Do we need to invite the JP to our reception?
Other than the gender presumptions in this Q&A from the Martha Stewart Weddings folks, this answer—most of the time, no—seems pretty right on to me.
"One-fourth of the justice of the peace candidates...
This happened about the same time I was elected. A normally sedate JP race in Montana wound up with 12 candidates for one position. As I mentioned earlier, I was one of 18 people running in my race, but there were 12 open positions. The person who eventually won, Joey Jayne (Montana’s first native woman justice court judge), was under investigation for improperly campaigning but the charges...
Expiating freely on the topic of matrimony....
Lots of interesting documents in the Wayne County (NC) historical archives that are slowly making their way online. Notably this petition for divorce from 1813 involving a drunken groom and a drunken Justice of the Peace. Your Petitioner further States that he hastily arose from his bed, and enquired into the cause of her intrusion upon his repose; When he was informed that a Justice of the...
This will go down on your permanent record
When I worked at the library, one of the things that brought people in was access to family history. The census is a public record but many people didn’t know how to access it or interact with it. Marriage records are public too, but most of the time are not “surfaced” the way the census information is. The New Orleans city archives has indexed their marriage licenses between the...
Just like the Howells on Gilligan's Island
There are a lot of ways to become a wedding officiant. There are also laws and regulations on who is legally allowed to perform a wedding and these vary by state. This New York Times article talks a bit about what you do when you find out that you aren’t legally married. Answer: not too much. “If the marriage is performed by someone unauthorized, but the two people having the marriage...
We are used to hearing the words “by the power vested in me by the State of...– A nice story about a wedding where Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the officiant.
Three JP stories
1. The Whirligig of Life by O. Henry 2. The Justice of the Peace by Octave Mirbeau 3. A Nightmare by Anton Chekov
A quaint avocation
A lot of the poking around that I’ve done in this pre-term period is looking at how JPs are presented in popular culture. Over at the Internet Movie Database you can take a look at all sixty-three movies that have justice-of-the-peace as a tag and notice when they were made. I’ll break it down for you. pre-1930: 2 1930-1939: 24 1940-1949: 23 1950-1959: 4 1960-1969: 4 1970-1979:...
Saving the county taxpayers about $100,000 a...
Apparently in parts of Texas, including Wichita Falls, the job of Justice of the Peace and coroner are done by the same person. Justice of the Peace Michael Little told a crowd in Wichita Falls, Texas today that part of his job is declaring people dead where they die and not where they might have been the victim of foul play. The attention of University Kiwanis Club of Wichita Falls members was...
I am not ready to be on Yelp...
But I’ve been reading a bit about wedding officiants. Apparently, and this should not surprise me, there are sites where you can find them and some of them like Wedding Wire allow people to rate their experiences. Show up five minutes before the wedding starts, or try to foist your values on someone or call a woman by her soon-to-be-husband’s last name and it will be on the internet...
The Magistrates' Blog →
For people who are interested in what a JP might deal with on a day to day basis, this is a blog that has been running for over six years. Once a single-author blog and now written by a team. This is in the UK where the JPs get to oversee some criminal court matters. Here is their What Do We Actually Do Then? post from 2009.
"Greetings, I'm your friendly Justice of the Peace...
In the “JPs in pop culture” category comes this Sonic the Hedgehog episode where Sonic dresses up as a Justice of the Peace and marries (or tries to marry) Robotnik to Katella.
PBJ stands for multiple things including this delicious sandwich but also Probation Before Judgment which is something that JPs get to do in Delaware at their JP Court.
Esther Morris: first female justice of the peace... →
Wyoming gave women the right to vote in 1869. At this time many women were appointed to various political positions including Esther Hobart Morris who was the first female JP in the United States. Vermont followed with women’s suffrage soon afterwards in 1880. Here is a story about an early JP, possibly Morris, who was appointed to a position in a mining town in Wyoming. [Suffrage],...
hawking without a license
While I don’t intend for this to become a “Wacky laws of olden tymes” blog, reading old JP manuals is often an exercise in looking at the things that used to be against the rules, and extrapolating about what that meant society back then would have been like. So, no surprise that Connecticut was hardass about messing about on the Sabbath, but looking at this list of crimes from...
JPing and Buy Nothing Day
I am home with leftovers and making a concerted effort to Buy Nothing today. However if you are out and about in the malls of Morayfield, Queensland AUS, you can pop by and get a justice of the peace to sign and witness stuff. Have not seen this sort of thing available in the US but have not been looking too hard.
having fun: illegal on the holidays
Here is a folksy New England story from 1856 about a fussy Justice of the Peace arresting someone on Thanksgiving for having too much fun. Apparently in Connecticut there was an annual Thanksgiving Proclamation read that ended with “All servile labor and vain recreation on said day are by law forbidden.” Thanksgiving ceased being a holy day in Connecticut in 1833.
DC, unrepresented since forever
DC has always felt like maybe they weren’t represented enough. When Jefferson ran for president in 1800, there was a big struggle for power culminating in the wacky Midnight Judges nonsense which changed the structure of the court system in the US, among other things. Thomas Jefferson had been a Justice of the Peace, a title he inherited from his father, and spent a lot of his early...