In a civil case, if the justice of the peace is disqualified or absent from the precinct parties to a lawsuit may agree to a substitute justice of the peace. If the parties fail to agree on a substitue, the county judge may appoint a qualified substitute. A justice of the peace performs a number of functions in addition to his primary role of presiding over the trial of cases. Each justice of the peace is a notary public and has additional power to administer oaths and to attest to the legitimacy of signatures on legal documents.
As do all Texas judges, a justice of the peace has the power to perform marriages and, where there is no county medical examiner, to act as a coroner. In his or her roe as a coroner, a justice of the peace may be called upon to inquire into the details of any death that occurs under suspicious circumstances within the precinct.
Justices of the peace may issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum to require that vital witnesses and evidence be brought before them. A subpoena is a legal document that requires a witness to appear in court. Justice of the peace courts may issue writs of attachment, garnishment and sequestration to gain physical control of property involved in cases before the court.
Justice of the peace, as well as municipal judges, have no equitable powers and cannot issue injunctions. They do, however, have authority to consider equitable factors in arriving at just verdicts.