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justice of the peace

a local public officer, usually having jurisdiction to try and determine minor civil and criminal cases and to hold preliminary examinations of persons accused of more serious crimes, and having authority to administer oaths, solemnize marriages, etc.
Origin of justice of the peace
1325-75; Middle English Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for justice-of-the-peace
Historical Examples
  • Youre a justice-of-the-peace, and I reckon a lawyer, or a half of a one.

    Justin Wingate, Ranchman John H. Whitson
  • Arkwright was a small politician, and by virtue of that fact held the office of justice-of-the-peace.

    Justin Wingate, Ranchman John H. Whitson
  • justice-of-the-peace Benaja Widdup sat in the door of his office smoking his elder-stem pipe.

    Whirligigs O. Henry
  • justice-of-the-peace Benaja Widdup interposed as they started for the door, forgetting his presence.

    Whirligigs O. Henry
  • justice-of-the-peace Benaja Widdup smoked his elder-stem pipe.

    Whirligigs O. Henry
  • He had lost his position as justice-of-the-peace, and was now often seedy and much given to drinking.

    Justin Wingate, Ranchman John H. Whitson
British Dictionary definitions for justice-of-the-peace

justice of the peace

(in Britain) a lay magistrate, appointed by the crown or acting ex officio, whose function is to preserve the peace in his area, try summarily such cases as are within his jurisdiction, and perform miscellaneous administrative duties
(in Australia and New Zealand) a person authorised to administer oaths, attest instruments, and take declarations
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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justice-of-the-peace in Culture

justice of the peace definition

A local officer of the judicial branch empowered to try minor cases, recommend cases for trial, and perform civil ceremonies, such as marriages and oath taking. Justices of the peace are usually elected locally and are paid fees for their services.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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