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What is a Justice of the Peace?

by Kristin Higgins - May 9, 2022

Updated Blog Post

Are you looking at your sample ballot for the Nov. 8 Arkansas election? There are a lot of jobs on the ballot that people might not know what they do.

Today we highlight the job of a quorum court member, or justice of the peace as they're also known in Arkansas.

Justice of the Peace in Arkansas

JPs represent a section, or district of a county. The position is a township role rather than a county-wide one. Depending on their population, counties have 9, 11, 13 or 15 members serving on their Quorum Courts. This governmental body is similar to a city council but crosses city lines. Their ordinances can affect people inside and outside of cities, though typically their ordinances target unincorporated areas.

There are 75 counties and 75 Quorum Courts in Arkansas. In other states, the role of justice of the peace is called a county commissioner.

JPs are the legislative branch of county government, and they meet at least once a month. The county judge presides over the Quorum Court but has no vote. 

Term in Office: Justices of the Peace serve two-year terms. JPs receive a per diem for their service. State law sets it at not less than $125 per regular meeting and no more than $10,742 per calendar year in counties with less than 70,000 people. In larger counties, the maximum per diem is $12,761. In counties with more than 200,000 residents, the cap is $16,382 per year.

The Association of Arkansas Counties reported per diems ranging from $125 to $864 in their 2021 county government salary survey. 

Eligibility Requirements:

  • United States citizen
  • At least 18 years old
  • Registered to vote in their county
  • Live within the county township or district they're running to represent
  • No fraud or felony convictions

Job Duties:

Over their two-year term, a JP is responsible for:

  • Setting real estate, personal property and sales tax rates in the county.
  • Determining the final budget for county departments and offices - including salaries - and appropriating funds for county expenses.
  • Preserving the peace and order in the county, though they do not have the authority to make any offense a felony. This often takes the form of passing county laws and in some counties making planning decisions.
  • Contract or join with any other county or city, or the federal government for a public purpose.
  • Creating, consolidating, separating, or abandoning any elected office in the county if first approved by voters.
  • Filling vacancies in elected county offices.
  • Providing for any service or performance of any function related to county affairs.

Many Quorum Courts also have subcommittees that JPs serve on and discuss the more nitty gritty details before an issue appears before the whole group. These committees have included budget/finance, building, economic development, environmental, personnel, legislative affairs, public safety, 

Justices of the peace also have the authority to marry a couple.

Look at Your November Ballot

Early voting starts Oct. 24 and Election Day is Nov. 8. Find out what is on your ballot at the Arkansas Secretary of State's VoterView website,

Use our 2022 Arkansas Ballot Issues Voter Guide to learn about the constitutional amendments on this year's ballot.

Additional Reading

Arkansas Justices of the Peace 2022 Procedures Manual - Association of Arkansas Counties

Encyclopedia of Arkansas: Quorum Courts

Structure and Responsibilities of Arkansas' County Governments