So after doing a bit of clicking around it seems that there are a lot of informal JP organizations out there with varying degrees of officialdom. Some of it seems to date back to the “Oh wouldn’t it be great if we had a portal for this?” days where you make the website and charge other people to list themselves there. Here is what I’ve been able to glean about JPs in the New England states.
FindAJP and jpUS are done by the same folks in Connecticut. They have some annual events, an e-newsletter and a directory of JPs for eight random-seeming states including Vermont. However, when I clicked through to see what was involved in signing up, the Vermont form seemed a little … non-specific.
I have no idea how to execute the statutes of Connecticut, so I passed on this. Here are a few more organizations
- I already mentioned the Massachusetts folks who have 500+ members in Massachusetts alone.
- No such thing in Maine. A somber web page states “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.”
- In Rhode Island you have to submit an application to the governor and pay $80, JPs are appointed. This guy has performed more weddings in RI than any other Justice of the Peace. I wonder how you can know that sort of thing? I guess it’s a public record.
- New Hampshire has some stringent requirements including a background check. Absolutely no fun clip art in their JP manual (pdf).
In summary, it’s one of those quirky things that is done on a state by state basis in the US. So, even though all six New England states have either gay marriage or civil unions (I am glaring in your direction Rhode Island, please handle this) the way they solemnize those unions and who gets to do that can vary dramatically. Tune in later when we look at how some of the other states handle this JP thing…