There are no qualifications for being named a Justice of the Peace. Nor do you have to pay a fee to become a JP.
It’s the perfect job, laughs Saul Haffner.
The retired Westporter should know. He’s a JP himself — and perhaps the country’s foremost expert on that unique position.
“In the beginning of time,” Saul says — back when he worked for the Congregation of Humanistic Judaism, not 1362 (the first time time “Justice of the Peace” appeared in English law) — he fielded calls from couples looking for rabbis to perform interfaith weddings. They were hard to find — so Saul vowed that when he retired, he would become a JP and do those ceremonies.
Fun fact: Every Connecticut town is allocated a certain number of JPs, based on the number of registered voters. Westport has 60 — equally divided between Democrats, Republicans and independents.
After becoming a Justice of the Peace in 2001, Saul wondered how anyone would find him. He looked around for a national JP organization. There was none. So he and his wife formed one.
Their website — JPUS.org — is now the go-to source for JPs around the country. The site offers a registry (JPs can include their political affiliation, ethnicity, religion and languages spoken); resources and guides for personalizing weddings; an interactive forum (with topics like “code of ethics,” “same-sex ceremonies” and “how the economy is affecting the JP business”), and discounts on JP merchandise (certificates, embossing seals, chuppas, etc.).
Saul performs 10 or so weddings a year. That’s low, he admits. But the JP does not want to compete with members of his own JP association.
Saul’s motto is “Your wedding, your way.” He’s married couples on motorcycles, on a boat that sailed into the sunset (Saul returned to shore via rowboat), and in Scottish clothing (the bride and groom gave Saul a kilt).
“Weddings are such a happy occasion,” he says. “I come away from each one on a real high.”
Not bad for a job with no requirements, no entry fees, and no experience needed.