What is a Judge?
Also known as: Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Judge, Hanging Judge, Senior Judge, Chief Judge, Probate Judge, Trial Judge, Presiding Judge, District Judge, Court of Appeals Judge, Circuit Judge, County Judge, Circuit Court Judge, Superior Court Judge, District Court Judge, Magistrate Judge.
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Judges apply the law to court cases and oversee the legal process in courts. They also resolve administrative disputes and facilitate negotiations between opposing parties. Most judges are employed in the various levels of government. Most work in courts, and the majority work full time.
How to Become a Judge
What does a Judge do?
Judges typically do the following:
- Research legal issues
- Read and evaluate information from documents such as motions, claim applications, or records
- Preside over hearings and listen to or read arguments by opposing parties
- Determine if the information presented supports the charge, claim, or dispute
- Decide if the procedure is being conducted according to the rules and law
- Analyze, research, and apply laws, regulations, or precedents to reach judgments, conclusions, or agreements
- Write opinions, decisions, or instructions regarding the case, claim, or dispute
Judges commonly preside over trials or hearings of cases regarding nearly every aspect of society, from individual traffic offences to issues concerning the rights of large corporations. They listen to arguments and determine whether the evidence presented deserves a trial. In criminal cases, they may decide that people charged with crimes should be held in jail until the trial, or they may set conditions for their release. They also approve search and arrest warrants.
Judges interpret the law to determine how a trial will proceed, which is particularly important when unusual circumstances arise for which standard procedures have not been established. They ensure that hearings and trials are conducted fairly and the legal rights of all involved parties are protected.
In trials in which juries are selected to decide the case, judges instruct jurors on applicable laws and direct them to consider the facts from the evidence. For other trials, judges decide the case.
A judge who determines guilt in criminal cases may impose a sentence or penalty on the guilty party. In civil cases, the judge may award relief, such as compensation for damages, to the parties who win the lawsuit. Some judges, such as appellate court judges, review decisions and records made by lower courts, and make decisions based on lawyers’ written and oral arguments.
Judges use various forms of technology, such as electronic databases and software, to manage cases and prepare for trials. In some cases, they also may manage the court’s administrative and clerical staff.
Types of Judges:
- Bankruptcy Judge
- Probate Judge
- Trial Judge
- Presiding Judge
- Magistrate Judge
- Family Law Judge
- Superior Court Judge
- District Court Judge
- Chief Judge
- Senior Judge
- Circuit Judge
- Court of Appeals Judge
- Hanging Judge
- Administrative Law Judge
- County Judge
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How to become a Judge
Judges are required to have a law degree and work experience as a lawyer. Getting a law degree usually takes seven years of full-time study after high school—four years of undergraduate study, followed by three years of law school. Law degree programs include courses such as constitutional law, contracts, property law, civil procedure, and legal writing.
Additionally, most judges must be either appointed or elected into judge positions, a procedure that often takes political support. Many judges are appointed to serve fixed renewable terms, ranging from four years to 14 years. A few judges, such as appellate court judges, are appointed for life.
Judicial nominating commissions screen candidates for judgeships in many local jurisdictions and for some federal judgeships. Some judges are elected to a specific term, commonly four years. All jurisdictions have some type of orientation for newly elected or appointed judges.
What is the workplace of a Judge like?
Judges do most of their work in offices and courtrooms. Their jobs can be demanding because they must sit in the same position in the court or hearing room for long periods and give undivided attention to the process.
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