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Qualities not on the JP job notice

R-C Editorial Board

As the avalanche of applications for East Fork Justice of the Peace piles up, we think perhaps the list of qualifications didn’t quite do justice to what the job actually entails.

Technically, any one who is a registered voter, lives in the East Fork Township and has never been disciplined by losing a judgeship elsewhere is qualified to serve.

But there are some requirements that should give the average resident pause before signing up. Justices of the peace are elected officials. That means that much of their lives are lived in a fishbowl, and there are lots of folks who like to tap the glass.

The justice courts are on the ground floor of the Nevada justice system. According to the 2009 Judicial Report, East Fork is the eighth busiest court in the state. The court dealt with 2,531 nontraffic cases and 10,105 parking and traffic cases during the year.

Being justice of the peace requires public speaking, and not the kind you find at Rotary. The audience is at best sullen, and at worst openly hostile. Every one of those more than 12,000 cases involves someone losing time, money or freedom. In some cases it’s all three.

Most people who go to court in Carson Valley begin in justice court. Most of what those people know about the court system comes from television. A justice of the peace must do more than judge guilt, culpability or responsibility. The justice of the peace educates people about their basic freedoms when they need them most.

Public speaker, politician, stern father and caring mother are all roles the justice of the peace plays. The justice of the peace must be ready to call us on our faults in a forum where what’s said may be taken down for posterity.

In way of thanks to all those folks who have or will apply for the job we offer this caveat: Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.