Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


The justice of the peace system has long been a part of the judicial process in the United States. The system originated in Great Britain and was transferred to the British colonies in the seventeenth century. Through the years the duties of the justice of the peace increased in number and importance. In recent years the powers of the office have declined and criticism of the system has mounted. As a result sane state governments have eliminated the justice of the peace system entirely and instituted the magistrate system. Two states which have taken such action are Virginia and West Virginia.

This study deals with the recent revisions in the laws relating to the justice of the peace system in the states of Virginia and West Virginia The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness or the ineffectiveness of the justice of the peace system and the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the magistrate system in these two particular States.