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 two years. Do you need a Vermont JP?

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

Nov 14

"Do you get one of those stamper things?"

Another perq I did not mention of being a JP is getting to be “a notary public ex officio" with "all the acknowledgment powers of a notary public." This, of course, sends me back to the State of Vermont website to read another guidebook Short Guide for Vermont Notaries Public (pdf) with another adorable story that you might not know.

Col. John C. Coolidge, father of President Calvin Coolidge, was for many years a Vermont Notary Public, as well as a storekeeper, selectman, deputy sheriff, state representative, state senator and a member of the military staff of the Governor of Vermont.

On the night of August 2, 1923, Col. Coolidge first brought word to his son that President Harding had passed away. This news was followed by a telegram from Attorney General Harry Daugherty, urging Coolidge to take the oath of office as President immediately. The son quickly consulted the Constitution and asked his father to administer the oath of office in his capacity as a Notary Public. The Colonel administered the oath at 2:47 a.m., across a marble-topped table, by the light of oil lamps, using his late wife’s Bible. Then the new President returned to bed, to await the morning.

On reaching Washington, Calvin Coolidge was administered a second oath by a Justice of the Supreme Court of the District of Colombia, on the advice of Attorney General Daugherty. The Attorney General had questioned the validity of the original oath, explaining that a Vermont Notary was empowered to swear in only officers of the State.

The memory and the charm of that ceremony in a small Vermont town lives on so forcefully today, however, that the second oath-taking no longer seems important.

So notaries get to do all sorts of SRS BZNS stuff which is outlined on a page that is actually live on the internet (instead of being a cumbersome pdf). I have now also learned the word apostille (which has something to do with the Hague Convention) and  an interesting anecdote. In 1940, Daniel Boone Schirmer petitioned to run for US House of Representatives as a member of the Communist Party. The Secretary of State wouldn’t take his petition of 752 signatures because Schirmer had notarized the signatures himself (as a notary). This turned into a case that went up to the State Supreme Court ultimately determining that, yeah, that’s not cool and notaries have to not have a vested interest in the stuff they are notarizing.

All this is to say that I got sidetracked while I was looking up information about the stamps and I will write more about that later.


  1. vermontjp posted this