The “People’s Court”
The Justice of the Peace is the judge that presides over the Justice Court. This court with legal jurisdiction closest to the average citizen. It is often referred to as "The People's Court". There are four of these judges in Johnson County, each elected to a four-year term. The JP precincts are the same as the county commissioners in Johnson County.
Management and Operations
The Justice of the Peace has ultimate authority over the operations of the office, including the authority to hire and fire personnel and direct their daily activities. The JP also has authority to determine how to use all other resources allocated to the office during the budget process.
More Than Small Claims
Since our incumbent judge in Precinct 3 has taken office (Hon. Pat Jacobs), the amount in controversy has doubled twice by our state legislature from $5,000 to $10,000 and now $20,000.
The Justice of the Peace has jurisdiction in all civil cases in which the amount of controversy is $20,000 or less which may include:
- Tort cases: when a person wrongs someone else in a way that exposes the offender to legal liability, and suits on account
- Landlord and tenant matters
- Evictions: matters concerning foreclosure of mortgages and enforcement of liens on personal property
- Driver's license hearings
Class C Misdemeanor
The judges also adjudicate class C misdemeanor cases punishable by fine only including:
- Traffic tickets
- Penal code offenses
- Hot checks.
Justice of the Peace Judges also deal extensively with juvenile matters.
- Alcohol and tobacco violations
These justices also enforce certain county and state ordinances.
- Environmental violations
- Illegal dumping
- Illegal towing
- Burn bans
- Citations issued by Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens
A Justice of the Peace is also a magistrate. As such, they may also:
- Issue warrants for search and arrest
- Conduct preliminary hearings
- Administer oaths
- Emergency protective orders
- Perform marriages
When a Justice of the Peace is also an Attorney
Under Texas law, a Justice of the Peace who is also a licensed attorney has additional lawful authorities which include:
Issue search warrants for the removal of blood in the event of a driving while intoxicated offense or any offense related to driving while intoxicated such as intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter