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The DL On JPs

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 — — 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 Haffner (left) and a newly married couple on Compo Beach

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.

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