The Matter of Justice

WHEN YOU HAVE LAW, WHICH IS SO BASIC TO ANY CIVILIZED SOCIETY, IT IS THE PROPER ADMINISTRATION OF THE LAW WHICH GRANTS THE CITIZEN BOTH JUSTICE AND EQUITY (EQUALITY)”

It has been said that justice is the principle of fairness one to another. There is a scripture that says “God enjoins justice, and the doing of good, and generosity towards one’s fellow man; and He forbids all that is shameful and all that runs counter to reason, as well as envy, and He exhorts you repeatedly so that you might bear all this in mind.” There is another that says “Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.”

In the next few articles, we will be examining the position of the Justice of the Peace, its historical conception and evolution and its relevance in “The Matter of Justice”.

The position of justice of the peace originated in England in 1361 with the passing of the Justice of the Peace Act. The Office of Justice of the Peace was established in 1362 by King Edward III of England. It is credited with completing the centralization of government in England and is an integral part of the Anglo-American system of jurisprudence

As the American colonies were being founded, one of the first offices established by the King was that of Justice of the Peace to establish and maintain order. . In colonial America the position, with its judicial, executive, and legislative powers, was the community’s main political force and therefore the most powerful public office open to colonists. The Americanized Justice of the Peace Court expanded to include taking acknowledgements, performing marriages and taking depositions. The colonial Justice was a person of recognized standing and Maintaining community order was a priority in the colonial era. The justice of the peace in this period was responsible for arresting and arraigning citizens who violated moral or legal standards. By the early 1800s, the crimes handled by the justice of the peace included drunkenness, Adultery, price evasion (selling below a minimum price fixed by law), and public disorder. Justices of the peace also served as county court staff members and heard Grand Jury and civil cases. The increasing number of criminal, slave, and tax statutes that were passed during the 1800s also broadened the enforcement powers of the justice of the peace.

When Texas became a republic, this grass roots court was quickly instituted. With the sparse population and the need for decentralized government, the Justice of the Peace became an integral part of the government. The Republic’s Constitution of 1836 specified that a “convenient number of Justices of the Peace” were to be elected in each county by qualified voters for two-year terms. Then, in the 1876 Constitution of the State of Texas, Article Five, Section One, the office of Justice of the Peace was again established as a court with judicial power.

Probably the most famous Justice of the Peace was the infamous Judge Roy Bean, the self styled “Law West of the Pecos”.

More to come.

Warren Fitzgerald, Jr. is a lifelong resident of the Acres Homes community, where he still lives and works. He is an attorney, author, and Associate Judge for the Municipal Courts of the City of Houston. Judge Fitzgerald is also a Candidate for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, Place 1, Harris County Texas.

NAACP Houston Demands Equity and Accountability for the Education of Minority Students in Houston

black children in schoolHOUSTON-The NAACP Houston Branch on behalf of a broad based community coalition filed an Original Petition for Injunctive Relief and Application for Temporary Restraining Order against Houston Independent School District for violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act. 

Plaintiffs, Dr. James Mathew Douglas and Carol Mims Galloway allege that HISD failed to give the public the required seventy-two (72) hours notice when it pulled a “bait and switch” action to place the repurposing of Jesse H. Jones High School on its March 13, 2014 school board agenda. 

Officials at HISD were not unavailable for comment on Wednesday concerning the NAACP action.

The plaintiffs argue that the agenda only gave notice that the consolidation of high schools was to be addressed; it failed to give notice that the repurposing of Jesse H. Jones was to be addressed; essentially disallowing the ability for individuals to intelligently speak on the new subject matter being presented to the public.

The coalition of civil rights and social justice community organizations, ministers and parents demand accountability and equity in educating minority students in HISD. 

HISD’s recent acts of school closures and consolidation of schools in minority communities demonstrate a blatant discriminatory practice of educational inequity. 

The NAACP strongly argues that HISD inadequately educates minority students in the district and it is producing a large cadre of minority students who are underprepared for the workforce. 

This is a detriment not only to the individuals concerned; but the entire Houston community and the State of Texas.