Unlearned Hand

updated 04/19/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/19/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

OYEZ! OYEZ! OYEZ! THE TOWN COURT OF RANDOLPH, N.Y., THE Honorable Justice Justin Weaver presiding, is now in session—or will be as soon as the Honorable Justice Justin figures out how to preside. Right now he's hitting the law books, taking a quickie how-to-be-a-judge course, picking up tips from the town's other justice—and doing chores on his parents' 145-acre farm. It's a lot for a 21-year-old college dropout with no legal experience.

Weaver was elected to the vacant post, which deals mainly with traffic violations and small claims, last Election Day. The job was open because the incumbent had died in 1991. There were no candidates because the town of Randolph (pop. 2,613) had voted to eliminate the position at the end of 1993—but had to list it on the ballot for legal reasons. Egged on by friends at a local truck stop, Weaver thought, "Gee, maybe I should run." He checked with the Board of Elections to see if he needed a law degree and got reassuring news: "I just had to live in the area and be over 18."

He did no campaigning. He didn't even tell most people he was running. And voting for the first time in his life, he wrote in his own name—and won in a l-to-0 landslide. "I was floored," he says. Now, although some in town feel he should resign, Weaver is determined to be the best justice he can be. "A lot of people look at me as a 21-year-old kid and not a justice," he says. "I have to show them I can do this."

Since his election he's been going to the town's turn-of-the-century courthouse to observe his distinguished colleague, Justice Jeffrey Gustafson, 46. After Weaver passes his six-day state training course, he'll be all set to start judging. In the meantime, though, he's upset that the town—which didn't expect to have a new justice on its hands—is offering to pay him only $30 a week, compared with Gustafson's $166 a week. Maybe he needs to consult a lawyer—a real one.

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