Martín Sánchez Trinidad, a 90-year-old justice of the peace.  today is

What are the main functions of a justice of the peace?

As its name suggests, put peace. Mainly it is about helping neighbors in cases of conflict to reach an agreement and avoid going to trial.

The justice of the peace exercises jurisdictional functions without belonging to the judicial career, issuing certificates of birth, marriage or death, as well as certificates of life and status, which certify the life of the applicant and his or her marital status. He can also process marriage files and celebrate civil weddings, register civil or religious marriages, births and deaths in the municipality.

How did the possibility of being a justice of the peace arise?

In the first years of democracy, when I was a councilor of the City Council, I was offered to be mayor or justice of the peace. I decided on the latter, since with my business I couldn’t serve the mayor’s office.

How often is the position renewed?

Every four years he is elected by the Plenary of the City Council. For me it is a pride to have enjoyed the trust of the different mayors, regardless of their political color.

Is the position paid?

For 24 years I was unpaid, but currently I receive a payment of 4.46 euros per day, that is, 402 every three months. It can be said that the work is totally vocational, since I dedicate myself to it without limits on hours or fixed hours.

What have you dedicated yourself to professionally?

In my life I have had many jobs. I have been a wine producer and bottler in the family winery, a beverage distributor, a transporter, a rancher, a buyer of almonds and chickpeas…

What requirements are needed to be a justice of the peace?

You must be Spanish, of legal age and not be involved in any of the causes of incapacity established by law to be a professional judge. Furthermore, I consider that you must have good behavior, formality and be respected by all your neighbors.

How many justices of the peace are there in the province?

I do not know the exact number but there is a Justice of the Peace in each municipality where there is not a Court of First Instance and Instruction.

We are currently the head of the group and run the Courts of Alange, Oliva de Mérida, Villagonzalo and La Zarza.

What issues do you try to resolve most often?

Many cases of conflicts over boundaries between neighbors.

What is the most difficult case you have encountered?

The drowning of a child in the Guadiana River. It so happened that that day I was there with my wife and children. I participated in the rescue, in the transfer to his house at night – since the Investigating Judge from Mérida did not come – and the next day, I attended the autopsy.

What are the best moments of your position?

Those cases in which neighbors have almost come to blows, with knives in the middle (I still have some in the Court), and I have managed to get them to end up hugging and even celebrating with a drink.

And the worst?

Well, when I have had to cut the rope to take down a hanged person or lift the corpse of a friend.

How many weddings have you celebrated?

Quite a few, almost fifty, which makes me proud to remember me.

Has justice changed much during these years?

Yes, but even though professional judges have become highly specialized, Justices of the Peace are still trusted to contribute to good neighborhood coexistence.

How many cases will you have tried and solved in your career?

I am able to affirm that throughout my 42 years of practice, I have treated and resolved more than a thousand cases.

Do you receive any type of training?

Yes, we often attend meetings with our Secretary General to inform ourselves of changes in the Court and the Civil Registry.

Throughout your career you will have come across countless anecdotes. Can you tell us some?

One that I remember with special fondness was when I had to get up at three in the morning to lift a sewer that had flooded another neighbor’s house. The owner of the house, the next day, as a sign of gratitude, gave me a chicken.

On another occasion, a friend gave me a box of cigars, because he had a tenant who wouldn’t leave his house, since he had a slut with “sluts.” I bought them for 3,000 pesetas and sold them to Alfonsino, the butcher, for 2,500. The 500 pesetas difference was paid by the owner of the house and thus he was able to take possession of it again. I could tell many more, because I remember them all.

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