Justices of the Peace
What is a Justice of the Peace?
Justices of the Peace (JPs) are members of the community with proven integrity that have been nominated by their local members of Parliament. These individuals are then appointed by the Governor-General and swear an oath of allegiance and a judicial oath. Once selected the Justice of the Peace holds their position for life.
What is the duty of a Justice of the Peace?
A Justice of the Peace in New Zealand can undertake many different duties, some ministerial and others judicial. These include witnessing the signing of official documents and declarations and swearing-in affidavits, a type of written statement.
Alternatively, a JP can attend prisons to hear the problems reported by the prisoners. Their role is to record these issues officially, and due to their strong integrity, it then falls to them to decide whether or not the prisoners’ problems are valid and require further action from those in charge.
Similarly, a JP can attend the district court to perform judicial functions. These are usually for minor offences and traffic cases or for issuing remands and bail. A Justice of the Peace may also hear undefended cases or preside over some trials. This function is rarely undertaken by new Justices of the Peace, as they cannot exercise their jurisdiction until sworn in by a judge, after their initial introductory training. Justices of the Peace may also preside over Citizenship Ceremonies held by their local council.