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A justice of the peace (JP) is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions. Justices of the peace are appointed or elected from the citizens of the jurisdiction in which they serve, and are (or were) usually not required to have a formal legal education in order to qualify for the office. Some jurisdictions have varying forms of training for JPs (for example Arizona,Victoria, and the United Kingdom).


Scotland

Within the Scottish legal system Justices of the Peace are lay magistrates who currently sit in the Justice of the Peace Courts. These courts were introduced in 2009 as a replacement for the District Courts (established in 1975), which in turn replaced burgh police courts. Justices sit alone or in threes with a qualified legal assessor as convener or clerk of court. They handle many cases of breaches of the peace, drunkenness, minor assaults, petty theft, and offences under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

In Glasgow, the volume of business requires the employment of three solicitors as "stipendiary magistrates" who sit in place of the lay justices. The stipendiary magistrates' court has the same sentencing power as the summary sheriff court. However, in 2006, the Scottish Government announced its intention to unify the management of the sheriff and district courts in Scotland, but retaining lay justices, as part of its initiative to create a unified judiciary under the Lord President.

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