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Justices

peace, commission, determine, king, particular, bail and usually

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JUSTICES of the peace, are persons ap pointed by the King's commission, to at tend to the peace of the county where they dwell. They were called guardians of the peace till the thirty-sixth year of Edw. HI. c. 12, where they are called jus tices. A justice of the peace must, be fore he acts, take the oath of office, which is usually done before some persons in the county, by virtue of a dedimus potestatem out of chancery. Sheriffs, coroners, at torneys, and may not act as jus tices of the peace.

The power, office, and duty of this ma gistrate extends to an almost infinite clim ber of instances, specified in some hun dreds of acts of parliament, and every year accumulating. The commission of of the peace does not determine by the demise of the King, nor until six months after, unless sooner determined by the successor : but before his demise, the King may determine it, or may put out any particular person, which is most com monly done by a new commission, leaving out such person's name.

Justices of the peace can only be ap pointed by the king's special commission, and such commission must be in his name ; but it is not requisite that there should be a special suit or application to, or warrant from the King for the granting it, which is only requisite for such as are of a particular nature, as constituting the mayor of such a town and his successors perpetual justices of the peace within their liberties, &c. which commissions are neither revocable by the King, nor deter minable by his demise, as the common commission of the peace is, which is made of course by the Lord Chancellor accord ing to his discretion.

The form of the commission of the peace, as it is at this day, was, according to Hawkins, settled by the judges about 23 Elizabeth.

Justices of the peace have no power to hear and determine felonies, unless they are authorised so to do by the ex press words of their commissions ; and that their jurisdictions to hear and deter mine murder, man-slaughter, and other felonies and trespasses is by force of the express words in their commission.

But though justices of the peace, by force of their commission, have authority to hear and determine murder and man slaughter, yet they seldom exercise a ju risdiction herein, or in any other offences in which clergy is taken away, for two reasons : 1. By reason of the monition

and clause in their commission, viz. in cases of difficulty to expect the presence of the justices of assize. 2. By reason of the direction of the statute of 1 and 2 Philip and Mary, c. 13, which directs justices of the peace, in case of manslaugh ter and other felonies, to take the exami nation of the prisoner, and the information of the fact, and put the same in writing, and then to bail the prisoner if there be cause, and to certify the same with the bail, at the next general gaol delivery ; and therefore in cases of great moment they bind over the prosecutors, and bail the party, if bailable, to the next general gaol delivery ; but in smaller matters, as petty larceny, and in some other cases, they bind over to the sessions ; but this is only in point of discretion and convenience, not because they have not jurisdiction of the crime.

As to inferior offences, the jurisdiction herein given to justices of the peace, by particular statutes, is so various, and ex tends to such a multiplicity of cases, that it would be endless to endeavour to enu merate them; also they have as justices of the peace a very ample jurisdiction in all matters concerning the pence. And therefore not only assaults and batteries, but libels, barratry, and common night walking, and haunting bawdy-houses, and such like offences, which have a direct tendency to cause breaches of the peace, are cognizable by justices of the peace, as trespasses within the proper and natu ral meaning of the word.

On renewing the commission of the peace (which generally happens when any person is newly brought into it) a writ of dedimns potestatem is issued out of chancery, to take the oath of him who is newly inserted, which is usually in a sche dule annexed, and to the same into that court at such a day as the writ commands. Unto which oath are usually annexed the oaths of allegiance and su premacy.

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