The office of Justice of the Peace is one of the oldest offices in existence today, beginning in England approximately 800 years ago. The Texas Constitution provides that counties with a population between 18,000 and 50,000, according to the most recent federal census, shall be divided into not less than two and not more than eight precincts. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Eastland County's population in 2009 was 18,167.
Note: You do not need to be represented by an attorney in any proceeding in JP Court, however an attorney may be able to provide important legal assistance. The Judges are not allowed to give legal advice.
Justices of the Peace have a wide variety of duties.
Criminal Jurisdiction - Original jurisdiction in "fine only" misdemeanors and other cases as provided by law.
Civil Jurisdiction - Justices of the Peace serve over two different civil courts.
Justice Court - Justice Court is a formal court setting, governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of Evidence and other rules as they apply. Justice court is governed by Chapter 27 of the Government Code.
Civil matters not exceeding $10,000, excluding interest;
- Forcible Entry and Detainers (Eviction proceedings);
- Foreclosure of Mortgages and enforcement of liens within the court's jurisdiction;
Small Claims Court - Commonly called the People's Court, Small Claims court is very informal and operates under different rules than any other court. Small Claims Court is governed by Chapter 28 of the Government Code.
- Civil matters not exceeding $10,000, including interest, but not including court costs.
- Judgments may be for money only.
- Collection agencies or assignees of claims may not sue in Small Claims court.
Courts of Inquest -In counties without a medical examiner, the Justice of the Peace serves as coroner and is responsible for determining the cause and manner of death in all cases not attended by a physician or as otherwise required by law.
Magistrate Duties - Justices of the Peace are criminal magistrates and as such have the power to issue arrest warrants, search warrants, mental health warrants, emergency protective orders and set bail after an arrest.