JPus in the News

New Britain Herald: 11/11/2006

JP conference grows

By: Francine Maglione, Herald Staff

NEW BRITAIN – One year after Connecticut legalized civil unions, justices of the peace are more popular than ever.

On Nov. 18, hundreds of justices of the peace will converge on Central Connecticut State University to attend the second annual Justice of the Peace Conference. The conference will take place in the Constitution Room in the university’s Memorial Hall, and is hosted by the Justice of the Peace Association, located in Westport. “We’re trying to build a community of justices of the peace,” said Barbara Jay, president of the Justice of the Peace Association.

According to the association, there are almost 300 justices of the peace in New Britain alone. Last year’s conference took place at Middlesex Community College and over 200 justices of the peace from across the state showed up. “It was such a great networking event we decided to make it an annual event,” Jay said. “There are a lot of questions about protocol that justices of the peace have.”

She added that many are also interested in learning more about marketing and pricing. “A lot of people actually try to make a living out of being wedding officiates,” she said. “It’s interesting that it’s becoming more business-oriented.”

Jerilyn Nagel, of Newington, has been a Justice of the Peace for 18 years and is looking forward to attending the conference so she can learn new regulations and the proper way to perform her duties. “I was at the one last year and it was very helpful,” she said. Nagel added that the job is not far off from social service, which she has worked in for many years. “It’s just kind of an extension of social services,” she said. Nagel also works as a producer for Repertory Theater in New Britain. After one of their recent shows, Nagel married a pair of domestic partners on stage. “I’m not special,” she said. “Everybody can do the same thing.”

Deborah Norris, of Farmington, became a Justice of the Peace several years ago after watching her sister get married by one.
While reciting the vows, the Justice of the Peace mentioned having children – something Norris’ sister was unable to do. As a result, Norris’ sister was very upset, and Norris vowed not to let that happen to other couples. “She kept hugging me and saying ‘you could’ve done a better job’,” Norris said. She gets to know the couples she prepares vows for and meets with them at least three times before the wedding. “I know them well,” she said. “They know and I know what their vows are.” This is Norris’ first time going to the conference. “I’m truly looking forward to it,” she said.

Francine Maglione can be reached at [email protected] or by calling (860) 225-4601 Ext. 223.