The position of justice of the peace is the oldest one in the state of Vermont. It was created by the Vermont Constitution in 1777.
In Vermont, justices of the peace (JP) are actually county officers, even though they are elected at the annual Town Meeting in March. They must be legal voters of their town to qualify.
To become a justice of the peace, you must be elected in a general election or be appointed to fill a vacancy. Nominations can be made by:
- members of the local party caucus
- town committee
- filing as an independent candidate
- write-in candidate on the general election ballot (town)
Each term of office starts Feb. 1 following the general election. All justices of the peace must take the oath of office and oath of allegiance before he/she can be fully qualified. A notarized copy of those oaths must be filed with the Town Clerk’s office.
Justices of the Peace are members of the Board of Civil Authority (BCA). They serve as election officials at town, statewide, and federal elections. Justices also are responsible for delivering absentee ballots to voters during election time.
Justices of the Peace sit as members of the Town Board of Abatement to determine whether a taxpayer’s tax burden should be forgiven under certain circumstances.
Justices of the Peace can perform marriages and certify civil unions in Vermont.
Justices of the Peace have the same acknowledgement powers as a Notary Public. They may also administer oaths in all cases where an oath is required, unless the law states otherwise.
Justices of the Peace may also serve as a magistrate if commissioned by the Vermont Supreme Court.