New JP ready for role in helping community

Judge Bernadette Farnan presents newly sworn-in justice of the peace Ginia McGearty with her certificate after the official ceremony in the Invercargill District Court on Friday.

MAKAREWA mother and legal executive Ginia McGearty thought the ceremony to be sworn in as a justice of the peace (JP) would be a quiet affair.

However, friends, family and colleagues thought her efforts deserved more recognition, so they joined her to celebrate her achievement in the Invercargill District Court on Friday.

For the 36-year-old mother of four, becoming a JP was the result of a year-long process.

Mrs McGearty said after the ceremony, wanting to become a JP was a flow-on from her role at Hewat Galt Lawyers.

“It just fitted really nicely with that.”

The support from workmates, family and her husband Mike meant she could complete the study and the 100 hours’ community work required.

Although she would initially perform mainly administrative duties as a ministerial justice, such as verifying documents and witnessing affidavits, Mrs McGearty said she would also like to do further training to become a judicial JP whose duties could include presiding over minor court cases and issuing remands.

Bruce Pagan JP, after welcoming her to the Southland Justices of the Peace Association, reminded Mrs McGearty the job was voluntary.

“There is no hourly rate and no Christmas bonus.”

During the ceremony, Judge Bernadette Farnan said she was sure Mrs McGearty would at times find the role both interesting and challenging.