JUSTICE OF THE PEACE COURT CELEBRATES 40th ANNIVERSARY
This year, Delaware’s Justice of the Peace Court celebrates its 40th anniversary as a state court. Until 1966, Justices of the Peace operated, for the most part, independently, without state oversight, with their salaries based on the fines they collected. In 1966, legislation was enacted which brought the Justice of the Peace Court under the umbrella of the State Judiciary.
The initiative for incorporating the Justices of the Peace into the state judicial system came from persons concerned with the fairness of the process, including the Delaware State Bar Association and civic-minded groups. Persons who were instrumental in implementing the change included the newly-elected Governor Charles L. Terry, Jr.; Joseph Walsh (who went on to become a Supreme Court Justice); and members of the legislature. Representative Vincent Bifferato (who later became a Superior Court Judge) sponsored the legislation to make the Justice of the Peace Court a state court.
Over the summer, Chief Magistrate Alan G. Davis will be gathering historical information about the Justice of the Peace Court which he hopes to have available to the public, both in printed form and on the Justice of the Peace Court’s website, in late fall. Judge Davis asks that all who would like to share pictures, stories, statistics, or other information of historical interest, contact his assistant Jamie Parkhurst. Judge Davis’ Sussex County Office is at 5 East Pine Street, Georgetown, DE 19947. Telephone is (302) 856-5871; fax number is (302) 856-5919.