Young JP eager to serve
The youngest of Hanover's newest batch of 45 justices of the peace, Giselle Muir (Photo: Anthony Lewis)

POINT, Hanover — After years of encouragement, 25-year-old Giselle Muir has finally taken on the challenge to serve her country as a justice of the peace. She is the youngest among the newest batch of JPs in Hanover.

Muir was elated to be included in the group of 17 men and 28 women commissioned during a ceremony held at Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort & Spa, last week Thursday.

"I've contributed over the years to my community in areas such as having my own outreach organisation, being actively involved in church, taking part in many non-governmental organisations, and I've always been one who has been a great advocate for young persons around me," she told the Jamaica Observer.

"From an early age, my father always wanted to see me in this capacity. He encouraged me a lot, especially in the way he saw me being so involved," added Muir who is a graduate of The University of the West Indies.

Her former batch mates also encouraged her to be a JP.

"I am always there to be the one to stand up for them; the one who is always not so scared to speak up. They encouraged me that one day I must become a JP so, when I saw this opportunity, I hung on to it," said Muir.

She has come a long way from the introvert she once was.

"I used to stutter and I was quite shy. And I had to push myself a little extra to talk a little bit more where I am not stuttering, and to push myself a little more to find myself in areas where I can do public speaking. So, I encourage my young persons out there not to look to the sky but look beyond. Remember, just take one step towards a success story that you are looking for," she said.

Her addition to the one other JPs in her rural community of Bamboo has been welcomed as it is a fairly big area.

"It's a great feeling when there are three of us from the community who are commissioned today so at least the work will be spread — and it wasn't a case where the JPs were concentrated in one area but [instead] it was spread across the community," said Muir.

"I had spoken to the other JPs from my community who were commissioned and I wanted to see in what ways we can see some form of enhancement within our community. There are many needs and at times the needs are not being met, so as the three JPs who are commissioned today we look forward to seeing how best we can ensure that our community is a beacon in the parish," she added.

She also intends to use her voluntary role as a JP to help customers at her full-time job at the National Housing Trust (NHT) office in St James.

"There are times when their loan documents need to be witnessed by a JP and it is a bit of a burdensome situation at times, having them find that JP who they're able to easily access. So, at least I am there in the office, making the process a little bit more seamless… We have another JP in the office. The person is a remote officer. I am not so remote so at least I will be there to assist in whatever way possible," stated Muir.

Custos of Hanover Dr David Stair, under whose auspices last Thursday's ceremony took place, charged the new JPs to take care in ensuring that they do not abuse their office. He also commended the volunteers who have been trained to serve.

"Today you have started a new chapter in life where the decisions you make are based on law — not on personal feelings, friendships, religious beliefs or family connections, or for monetary rewards. Today you have all become part of the Jamaican judiciary system," stated Dr Stair.

In congratulating the new JPs, who will be offering their service free of charge to the public, Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck urged them to work hard and ensure that the letters JP are not mistaken for "just profiling".

"Once you become a JP you must be impartial — you must have no political colour, you must be above the run of the mill, you must be someone who can be relied on so that once you give your word, people will know that it is coming from a justice of the peace," said Chuck.

BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer

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