By Andy Labdon
Back in 1990, the head of Wadena’s RCMP detachment, Sergeant Jim Cain, recommended Terry Tompkins for the position of justice of the peace (JP).
“I felt honoured when I was asked and hoped I could do a good job,” said Tompkins in an interview last week.
Although 27 years later his tenure has come to an end due to mandatory retirement, this isn’t stopping Tompkins from carrying on with his other duties as still both a marriage commissioner and funeral director, he said. There is a misconception that a justice of the peace can perform marriages, but in the Province of Saskatchewan they do not have that authority, only marriage commissioners can, said Tompkins.
Once appointed, Tompkins took courses in law and in the duties of a JP. He commenced working with the RCMP as a judicial officer performing certain administrative and judicial functions in the criminal justice system. In the interest of justice, JPs are expected to carry out these functions in a fair, impartial, and independent manner.
Tompkins’ duties included administering oaths for criminal charges laid by the police or the public; confirming or cancelling, reviewing and signing a court-issued processes; reviewing and issuing subpoenas compelling witnesses to attend court; administering oaths for affidavits, affirmations and declarations; considering applications for search warrants; and releasing or remanding accused persons, who have been arrested and are being held in custody, to name but a few processes.
As justices of the peace, Tompkins on occasion performed certain court functions due to the absence of a provincial court judge.
As to the position of a local justice of the peace, it will no longer be handed to another upstanding member of this community, as the process and position will now be centralized in Regina.
Sometime in the mid- to late-’90s, however, the paths of Tompkins and the current local RCMP Sergeant, Burton Jones, crossed.
“I have known Terry for probably over 20 years now,” wrote Jones in an email. “I grew up watching him speak at the Wishart Remembrance Day service every year as a young fellow, and then started to participate in the service with Terry once I joined the RCMP in 2003,” said Jones.
In 2014, Jones was posted to Wadena.
“Terry was the first one to find me and congratulate me and welcome me to Wadena. He certainly made me feel right at home,” said Jones.
To celebrate his long service as justice of the peace, the Wadena/Foam Lake RCMP detachments surprised Tompkins with a celebratory meal and plaque signifying his contribution to the community.
The last words go to Sgt. Jones:
“I have worked in the RCMP for 14 years now spanning five detachments and I can say, without a doubt, Terry has been the most reliable JP I have ever had the pleasure to work with,” said Jones. “The job of a JP is not an easy one at all. The hours are poor and you can be called anytime day or night. Terry as always been just a ‘phone call away’ for the last 27 years.”