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How to Become a Justice of the Peace in California

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A Justice of the Peace is a judge who presides over many legal proceedings including, but not limited to, weddings, small-claims issues and misdemeanors. In California, the court case Gordon v. Justice Court in 1974 declared it mandatory to pass the state bar exam and practice law before presiding as a judge.

Go to school to receive a bachelor's degree. Popular degrees for entry into law school include political science, economics, philosophy and history.

Earn a Juris Docterate, or J.D., from an accredited law school. School ranking sources such as Princeton Review, Kaplan and U.S. News may assist in your selection of schools.

Pass the California state bar exam. A passing score on the bar exam is required to practice law.

Gain legal experience in the field you would like to preside over. If you would like to preside over marriages, practicing family law would provide related expertise.

Become appointed or elected to a position. Depending on the position, appointed and elected terms can vary greatly, from four years to lifetime appointments.


Veronica Maier has been an active online writer since 2010. She has been a contributing writer to eHow and Answerbag. Maier holds a Bachelor of Arts in art history and visual culture with an emphasis on the American modern from the University of California, Santa Cruz.