The justice of the peace presides over the court that is most accessible to the average citizen. Justices of the peace hear misdemeanor cases punishable by fine only and can hear most civil cases in which the amount in controversy does not exceed $10,000.
The justice of the peace also performs the functions of a magistrate and conducts inquests. In addition, a justice of the peace may issue warrants for search and arrest. Justices of the peace also issue civil process, conduct preliminary hearings, administer oaths, perform marriages and serve as a coroner in counties where there is no medical examiner. The justice of the peace may also conduct inquests.
As with all elected county officials, the justice of the peace has ultimate authority over the operations of the office, including the authority to hire and fire personnel and direct their daily activities. The justice of the peace also has authority to determine how to use all other resources allocated to the office during the budget process.