Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace (JP) is a puisne
Puisne is a legal term of art used mainly in British English meaning "inferior in rank." It is pronounced like the word puny, and the word, so spelled, has become an ordinary adjective meaning weak or undersized.The judges and barons of the common law courts at...

 judicial officer
Judicial officer
A judicial officer is a person with the responsibilities and powers to facilitate, arbitrate, preside over, and make decisions and directions in regard to the application of the law....

 elected or appointed by means of a commission (letters patent
Letters patent
Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch or president, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or corporation...

) to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice
Summary justice
Summary justice refers to the trial and punishment of suspected offenders without recourse to a more formal and protracted trial under the legal system...

 or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 jurisdictions. Justices of the peace are appointed or elected from the citizens of the jurisdiction in which they serve, and are (or were) usually not required to have a formal legal education in order to qualify for the office.