About the Justice of the Peace

History of the Justice of the Peace

The office of Justice of the Peace was established in 1362 A.D. by King Edward III of England. For three hundred years, the English Justices of the Peace contributed immeasurably, through police, administrative and judicial functions, to the final supremacy of the law-making body of England.

As the American colonies were being founded, one of the first offices established by the King was that of Justice of the Peace. This tradition of a "grass roots" court was quickly instituted when Texas became a Republic. The office of Justice of the Peace became an integral part of the young Republic’s government.

In the 1876 Constitution of the State of Texas, the office of Justice of the Peace was again established as a court in which judicial power was vested.

Department Functions

The Justice of the Peace courts have original jurisdiction over criminal Class C misdemeanor. cases with fines only, plus Justice and Small Claims Court civil cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed $10,000.00.

The Justice Court has jurisdiction over all Eviction Suits and Writs of Re-Entry. The JP, as the Judge is often informally called, may issue arrest warrants as well as Search and Seizure warrants. He also conducts Administrative and Magistrate hearings, which include bail settings, arraignments, drivers license suspensions, examining trials, and stolen property and illegally towed vehicle hearings. The JP courts collect fines and fees for various civil and criminal cases filed. The Justice of the Peace performs marriage ceremonies. The Justice Court also has jurisdiction on "Failure to Attend School" and "Thwarting School Attendance" cases.

Office Hours

We are a high traffic office and our phone is constantly busy, so keep trying. The front doors of our building are locked at 4:45PM each work day to allow our clerks time to finish their work in progress by 5PM.

"The Justice of the Peace is often the first and , in most cases the only, contact a citizen has with County Government. It is the "people’s court" and my hope is that each citizen leaves this court feeling they had the opportunity to have their say, no matter what the outcome."