Justice of the Peace
The office of Justice of the Peace originated in Europe and was brought to this country by the early colonists. The office existed in Connecticut in some form from the beginning of the colony.
At one time when this State had a multi-tiered Court system with substantial judicial business being conducted by municipal and city Court judges, the elected Justice of the Peace had substantial authority with respect to the administration of minor Courts in this State. Over the years the scope of authority of this official has been narrowed. Justices of the Peace have general oath giving powers, make take acknowledgments, may join persons in marriage, and may take depositions. There are also many statutory grants of power regarding specific documents.
Watertown can have up to 135 Justices of the Peace per Town of Watertown Ordinance passed in 2001. Connecticut General Statutes Section 9-183a, 9-183b, and 9-183c prescribe the manner in which Justices of the Peace are selected in Connecticut. Two-thirds of a town’s Justice positions are allocated to “major” political parties (Democrats and Republicans) and one-third of Justice positions in each town are reserved for electors who are NOT members of the major parties. Vacancies in Justice positions allocated to major parties can be filled by appointment by the town committee of the political party of the vacating Justice of the Peace for the remainder of the term. There are no vacancy filling of Justice positions for electors who are not members of major parties.
The term of a Justice of the Peace is 4 years and the current term began 1/4/2021 and ends on 1/6/2025.
A list of current Justices of the Peace can be furnished upon request from the Town Clerk’s office.