The justice of the peace is sometimes a peculiarity, and if someone does not watch him he will exceed his jurisdiction. It took a constable, a sheriff, a prosecuting attorney and a club to convince a Wyoming justice of the peace that he had no right to send a man to the penitentiary for life. Another justice in Utah sentenced a criminal to be hung on the following Friday between twelve and one o'clock of said day, but he couldn't enforce the sentence. A Wisconsin justice of the peace granted a divorce and in two weeks married the couple over again—ten dollars for the divorce and two dollars for the relapse. Another Badger justice bound a young man over to appear and answer at the next term of the Circuit Court for the crime of chastity, and the evidence was entirely circumstantial, too.
Another one, when his first case came up, jerked a candle box around behind the dining-room table, put his hat on the back of his head, borrowed a chew of tobacco from the prisoner and said: “Now, boys, the court's open. The first feller that says a word unless I speak to him will get paralyzed. Now tell your story.” Then each witness and the defendant reeled off his yarn without being sworn. The justice fined the defendant ten dollars and made the complaining witness pay half the costs. The justice then took the fine and put it in his pocket, adjourned court, and in an hour was so full that it took six men to hold his house still long enough for him to get into the doors.
Saturday, May 15, 2021
Justice of the Peace, back in the day
From Bill Nye, back in the 1880's: