How to Become a Justice of the Peace

A justice of the peace is a low-level judicial officer who is endowed with the authority to perform a variety of minor legal tasks. In most places, becoming a justice of the peace is a surprisingly simple process. To qualify for the position, show proof that you’re a resident of the state or territory you plan to work in and gain at least a basic knowledge of civil law. Once that’s done, submit a formal application for the position and wait to be approved by a committee.

EditSteps
EditMeeting the Basic Requirements
Provide proof of residency in the state or territory you want to work in. In order to be eligible to serve as a justice of the peace, you’ll need to be able to show that you’re a legal citizen where you live. The exact procedure for doing so varies from place to place. Contact your local state department office to find out more about the specific requirements for your region.[1]
Proving residency is often as simple as filling out a few forms and producing documents that show that you’ve lived in the area for a specific amount of time.

In Texas, for instance, you must have lived in the state on a full-time basis for at least one year to be granted residency and therefore be eligible to become a justice of the peace.[2]
Rhode Island is the one exception to this rule in the U.S. In Rhode Island, non-residents who regularly conduct business in the state can apply to become justices of the peace.[3]

Request a background check from your local police department. Head down to police headquarters and talk to a high-ranking officer about conducting a background check. As long as the investigation doesn’t turn up anything incriminating, the department will generate a document verifying that you have no past criminal charges, which you may be asked to present during the application process.[4]
Alternatively, see if it’s possible to submit a request through their official website. Some police departments are authorized to carry out background checks remotely.

Having a clean record is a must if you hope to be bestowed any kind of power under the law.

Confirm your voter registration status with your local election office. In addition to being law-abiding citizens, all candidates for a justice of the peace position must also be registered to vote in their home state. If you don’t have a voter registration card (or if yours has expired), contact the election office for your district to check your registration status. It may be necessary for you to re-register or update the info that’s on file.
You can find the contact information for your local election office by visiting https://www.usa.gov/election-office.

To register as a voter or change out-of-date information, you’ll need to use the official voter registration form issued by your state.[5]

EditExpanding Your Knowledge of the Law
Study criminal justice to improve your odds of being approved. While there are usually no formal educational requirements to become a justice of the peace, having a background in law can certainly help. Consider enrolling in a criminal justice program through an accredited four-year university. Your time there will give you a better understanding of how laws are officiated on a local and national level.[6]
If you don’t have the time, money, or interest to enter a degree program, see about auditing classes in criminal justice and other relevant subjects in your spare time.[7]

Earn your law degree to add distinction to your credentials. Seeking a law degree is the next step up from completing a basic education. To obtain a law degree, you’ll first need to have earned a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a related field. You can then begin applying to law schools that suit your individual preferences.[8]
Undergraduate degrees in criminal justice, history, English, sociology, and political science all translate well to the study of law.[9]
Most law programs take an average of 3-4 years to complete.

Take advantage of continuing education if you’re unable to go to school. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of earning a degree, another option is to attend various seminars, special interest talks, and non-degree courses on legal subjects being offered in your area. These are often open to non-degree holders and people with no prior college education. The broader your foundational knowledge of the law is, the better your chances of being confirmed as a justice of the peace.[10]
Make sure the institution offering the course is accredited before you sign up. Unaccredited education may not carry the same weight in the eyes of your state’s reviewing committee.[11]
In some cases, continuing education is a requirement of serving as a justice of the peace, so it can help to already have some experience under your belt. Justices of the peace in the state of Texas, for instance, are required to complete 80 hours of continuing education during their first year in office.[12]

EditApplying for the Position
Fill out an application at your local state department office or website. Applying to be a justice of the peace is similar to applying for most other jobs. Get in touch with your local state department office by phone or email to find out how to access the application form and get the process started. It should only take a few minutes to complete.[13]
In the majority of U.S. states, the application forms for justice of the peace positions are available online. [14]

Provide a list of professional or character references if asked. Almost all issuing bodies ask candidates to supply 3-4 references along with their application. Call or visit the website of your local state department office to learn more about references and whether or not they’re required. If you’re permitted to choose your own, current and former employers, educators, and professional colleagues can be great people to ask.[15]
Keep in mind that there may be highly specific criteria for the references you list depending on where you live. In New Hampshire, for instance, a candidate’s references must include two current justices of the peace and one registered voter.[16]
You may also be expected to present a one-page letter of recommendation from one of your references.

Pay the required filing fee for your application. Most government offices charge a fee for processing official applications. Depending on how things are done in your state or territory, you may be able to make a payment online through your local state department’s website. If that’s not an option, you’ll have to pay in person or via mail when you go to turn in your application.[17]
The fees associated with filing an application for a justice of the peace position typically range from $70-80.

Submit your completed application form online, in person, or by mail. Before putting in your application, take a few minutes to make sure you’ve filled it out in its entirety and that all of the information it contains is accurate and up-to-date. Attach copies of all other required documents, including your letter of recommendation and background check. Then, send off your application, drop it in the mail, or take it down to your local state department office in person.
It may take up to 3 weeks before you hear back about whether you’ve been approved for the position.

Once you’ve been confirmed, you’ll be legally recognized as a justice of the peace for 4-5 after the date of commission.[18]

EditTips
As a justice of the peace, you’ll be able to perform a wide range of minor legal duties such as certifying documents, witnessing legal proceedings like land transfers, and taking declarations and affidavits for use in court.

These days, fewer and fewer justices of the peace are granted the power to perform marriages. However, this still may fall under the heading of your responsibilities, depending on where you live.

EditThings You’ll Need
Driver’s license, birth certificate, or social security card

Valid voter registration card

State-specific justice of the peace application form

Signed letter of recommendation

Application filing fee

Four-year degree in law or related subject (optional)

EditSources and Citations
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Today in History for 22nd December 2018

Historical Events

1715 – English pretender to the throne James III lands at Peterhead
1890 – Cornwallis Valley Railway begins operation between Kingsport and Kentville, Nova Scotia.
1952 – French government of Pinay, resigns
1956 – “New Faces of 1956” closes at Barrymore Theater NYC after 221 performances
1990 – Israeli ferry capsizes killing 21 US servicemen
1997 – Hunter Tylo awarded $4 million in Melrose Place breach of contract

More Historical Events »

Famous Birthdays

1694 – Hermann Samuel Reimarus, German philosopher and writer, born in Hamburg, Germany (d. 1768)
1768 – John Crome (Old Crome), English landscape artist, born in Norwich, England (d. 1821)
1896 – Nikolay Semyonovich Tikhonov, Russian poet, born in St Petersburg, Russia
1946 – Rick Nielsen, American rock vocalist/guitarist (Cheap Trick), born in Rockford, Illinois
1967 – Sean Foster, WLAF wide receiver (Rhein Fire)
1969 – Myriam Bédard, Canadian biathlete, born in Loretteville, Quebec City

More Famous Birthdays »

Famous Deaths

1337 – Daito Kokushi, leader of O-To-Kan Rinzai school in Japan, dies at 54
1419 – Pope John XXIII [Baldassare Cossa], Italian Pope (1410-15), dies at 81
1788 – Percivall Pott, English physician and surgeon (b. 1714)
1828 – Rachel Jackson, wife of 7th US President Andrew Jackson, dies of heart failure
1939 – Ma Rainey, “Mother of the Blues”, US blues singer/composer, dies at 53
2006 – Elena Mukhina, Russian gymnast (b. 1960)

More Famous Deaths »

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How to Get Rid of Deer

Bambi isn’t so cute when he’s munching on the plants in your garden. Deer are notorious for damaging trees, shrubs, and other plants, and they especially love the well-fertilized and lush growth of gardens and landscaping beds in most developed areas. By using a combination of strategies, including loud noises and smelly scents, you can get rid of those cute but pesky whitetails and even prevent them from coming back.

EditSteps
EditScaring Away Deer
Use flashing lights or loud noises to startle deer. Blow a horn or whistle or blink a flashlight if you see deer in your yard. You can also get sensors that emit high-pitched noises when they detect movement. Keep in mind you will need to change your method at least every 3 weeks as deer will quickly adjust to any 1 method.[1]
For example, if you’re using a whistle, after 3 weeks, switch to the flashlight.

Try hanging old CDs or aluminum foil from trees or shrubs. The flashing lights from the CDs and rustling noise of the foil help deter deer.

Wind chimes rattling in the breeze or a flashy garden accessory with moving parts like a pinwheel are both decorative ways to keep deer away.

Set up a motion-activated sprinkler system that will spray deer. These sprinklers go off when they detect any movement, like a deer stepping into your garden. Place them anywhere you don’t want deer. However, the sprinklers only work in the warmer summer months because they’ll freeze up in the winter.[2]
Look for a sprinkler with an infrared sensor that will detect motion at night, too.

Move your sprinkler around every couple of weeks so the deer don’t become used to it or learn how to avoid it.

Let your dog out in the yard or set up a dog decoy if you don’t have a pet. Deer are afraid of predators like dogs and are likely to steer clear if they suspect one is nearby. Keep Fido outside more often or stake a silhouette of a dog in the yard. Even the decoy will frighten deer.[3]
Scattering dog hair on the ground around specific plants and trees or around the perimeter of your garden gives off the scent of a predator to deer, scaring them off.

Decoys of any predators, like owls, coyotes, or hawks, will work. You can buy decoys that move, too, which are even more effective.

Keep your dog’s safety in mind. Don’t leave your dog outside if it’s raining or really cold. Smaller dogs shouldn’t be left unsupervised for long periods of time, either, if there are birds of prey in your area.

EditRepelling Deer with Scents
Hang bars of biodegradable soap from trees you don’t want to get eaten. Wrap a bar of soap in burlap and tie it to a tree branch in the backyard. The tallow in the soap is unappealing to deers’ noses.[4]
Stronger scents are more effective in deterring deer. Just avoid soap with coconut oil, which can attract deer.

If you don’t like the look of soap hanging in the trees, sprinkle soap shavings around the base of plants or trees instead.

Spray a commercially prepared repellent on plants the deer have targeted. Choose from odor sprays or taste sprays. Odor sprays can be sprayed over a larger area, like around the border of your yard. Taste sprays, on the other hand, are applied to a single plant, tree, or shrub. The liquid tastes and smells bad to deer, so they stop eating the plant.[5]
Check to make sure the product is safe to use for vegetable and fruit bearing plants if you are using it on a garden or fruit trees.

Spray it at night when you aren’t in the yard so you don’t have to be around the odor.

Spread coyote urine so that deer think a predator is nearby. Buy the urine from an online retailer and spray it in any areas you want to keep deer away from. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way. For example, just 2 to 3 drops on 1 plant is enough.[6]
You can also get urine granules that you sprinkle onto the soil.

Bobcat urine is a common alternative to coyote urine because bobcats are another predator of deer.

Apply an egg spray to make plants smell unappealing. Beat 3 eggs with of water in a mixing bowl. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle, and spray the plants every 30 days or after it rains. The sulfur from the egg smells like rotting meat, which the deer associate with predators.[7]
Spray the plants on a dry day so the mixture sticks better to the leaves.

Use a spray made with diluted hot sauce to irritate deer. Combine equal parts hot sauce and water in a spray bottle and shake thoroughly before applying to plants or tree leaves. The capsicum from the peppers in the hot sauces tastes bad to the deer, causing them to stop eating the plant.[8]
Adjust the ratio of hot sauce to water however you’d like. The more hot sauce you include, the stronger the repellent will be.

EditPreventing Deer from Returning
Build a fence at least around your property to keep deer out. Most deer cannot jump higher than this. Deer are also more hesitant to jump over a fence if they don’t know what’s on the other side so a stockade-style fence works best. Make sure there are no gaps that a deer could squeeze through.[9]
A double fence also deters deer. They don’t like to be trapped or enclosed, so two fences built about apart will prevent deer from jumping.

If you don’t want a fence around your entire yard, just fence in the plants or shrubs you want protected from the deer.

A tall hedge or row of dense shrubs can act as a natural fence.

Avoid planting smooth and tender plants that deer love to eat. Deer enjoy things that are flavorful, sweet, or high in protein. Some of their favorite foods include fruit trees and bushes, bean or pea plants, English ivy, and pansies. The more of these plants you have, the more likely you are to attract deer.[10]
Other flowering plants that deer like are roses, azaleas, chrysanthemums, and clematis.

If you do want to plant these things, keep them close to the house so you can keep tabs on them.

Plant deer-resistant plants around vegetation the deer are targeting. Deer are very sensitive to tastes and textures. They dislike plants that are hairy or furry, prickly, or strongly aromatic. Keep deer away from more delicious plants by surrounding them with these less appealing plants.[11]
Examples of deer-resistant plants include foxgloves, black-eyed susans, carnations, poppies, lavender, and evergreens.

Place pots of fragrant herbs like thyme or rosemary around your yard to repel deer.

Remove bird feeders from your yard, at least at night. Bird seed or corn that you place out for other animals will also draw deer to your property. If you don’t want to get rid of your bird feeders completely, put them inside in the evening and then take them back out in the morning since deer most commonly eat at night.[12]
Another option is to place a mesh cage around the bird feeder or hang it high enough that a deer standing on its hind legs can’t reach it.

EditVideo
EditTips
If you don’t want to give up the flowers you love, build a fence around your garden or put mesh around the plants.

Predator urine is one of the most effective deer repellents.

Deer can learn your strategies and adapt quickly. Switch up your methods often.

Solid fences or thick boxwood hedges that deer can’t see through are best at preventing them from trying to jump over.

Always spray repellent when it’s dry outside so the repellent sticks to the plants and trees.

Reapply repellent whenever it rains.

EditWarnings
Most deer repellents have a very foul odor. Spray them at night so you don’t have to be around them as much.

Make sure any repellents you use are safe for pets. Otherwise, keep your pets out of the yard.

Deer are wild animals and can attack people. Never charge at a deer or try to catch it with your bare hands.

Some repellents can be poisonous. Don’t use them on fruit or vegetable plants that you’ll be eating.

EditSources and Citations
EditQuick Summary
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