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According to the “Vermont Justice of the Peace Guide” published by the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office, there are more than 1,800 justices of the peace in the state of Vermont. There are more justices of the peace than any other public office in the state.
Although the towns elect justices of the peace, they are actually county officers. They must be legal voters of the town to qualify. Their duties and responsibilities fall into five categories: elections, tax abatement and appeals, marriages, oaths and notary, and magistrate.
To become a justice of the peace, you must be elected in a general election or be appointed to fill a vacancy.
There are three ways to be become nominated as a candidate for justice of the peace: by members of your local party caucus, by the town committee, or by filing as an independent candidate. Outside of a nomination, you can run as a write-in candidate on the general election ballot.
Your name will appear on the ballot during the general election. Your next job is to campaign for the office. You must file campaign finance reports if you have accepted contributions or made campaign expenditures of more than $500.
If you win the seat, you’ll take the oath of office before the term starts Feb. 1 following the general election. A justice of the peace is not fully qualified to serve until she has taken the oath of office and the oath of allegiance. She must then file with the town clerk a notarized copy of those oaths.
A Vermont justice of the peace is committed to procedure, legal authority, and fairness in making decisions. According to "The Vermont Justice of the Peace Guide," they are to “use their authority as a justice of the peace carefully, ‘without fear or favor of any person,’ and with integrity.”
Every newly elected justice of the peace must take their oaths at the beginning of each term. That includes those who have been serving continuously. They must still take their oaths before Feb. 1.
- Vermont state contour against blurred USA flag image by Stasys Eidiejus from Fotolia.com