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How to be a justice of the peace in Jamaica

by Isheba Cornwall, Associate Writer

A Justice of the Peace is a Jamaican citizen who resides in Jamaica whom has volunteered to promote and protect the rights of individuals in their community. A JP must also be between the ages of 25-70 and be of indubitable integrity.

But can anyone who posess these qualities become a Justice of the Peace? Absolutely not!

In addition to the age and citizenship, a candidate for Justice of the Peace in Jamaica...

  • Must speak fluent English

  • Must have given good service to his/her community and to Jamaica overall, and has the intention of continuing to offer their services to Jamaica.

  • He or she must have the ability to communicate with citizens of all types in his/her community.

    Note however that because the position of Justice of the Peace is voluntary, a JP should not charge for his/her services nor can he/she accept gifts.

Functions of a Justice of the Peace

With great power comes great responsibilities- as the famous quote states.

Therefore, the Justice of the Peace is expected to:

  • Serve in the courts of the petty session

  • Visit jails to inspect the conditions

  • Offer advice or counsel individuals in their community
    Be on panels for licensing

  • Attend the Children’s Courts and the Drug Court.

    And, having known the individual in need of their services a Justice of the Peace can also:

  • Consider various applications

  • Explain and sign documents

  • Give recommendations for schools and jobs and
  • Consider applications for bail etc.

So back to your question...

How to be a justice of the peace in Jamaica

The Justice Of The Peace title comes with a lot of responsibilities and so great care is taken by designated officers to ensure that candidates are able to fulfill his/her duties.

In Jamaica the Minister of Justice, who is responsible for maintaining accurate records on each appointed Justice of the Peace, is also responsible for all the processes to become a Justice of the Peace(JP).

  1. To become a JP in Jamaica, you first need to be recommended by a citizen, club, organization or business to the Custos of the parish in which you reside.

  2. Having received the recommendation, the Custos will then make enquirers about your background - this is to ensure that you are suitable for the job.

  3. The Advisory Committee, which is made of the Custos of the parish, the Parish judge and the Superintendent of Police, then reviews the application or recommendation, deliberates and then select you - if they feel that you are qualified. Keep in mind that the JPs are actually chosen under the Governor General’s discretion.

  4. The Custos then submits your name to the Minister of Justice, after which, you will be trained prior to appointment.

  5. An oath is then taken at appointment and the official seal, authorizing the discharge of the function of the office is given to you, now a JP (Justice Of the Peace).

    That's really it.

    So if are you of unquestionable character, love your country, go for it. A Justice of the Peace is an esteemed position but above that, you will be giving back to Jamaica land we love in a tangible way.

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