What is a Judge?
Judges are elected or appointed officials who act as impartial decision-makers in the pursuit of justice. They apply the law to court cases by overseeing legal proceedings in courts, ruling on questions of law, and facilitating negotiations between opposing parties.
When judges are not in the courtroom, they can be found in their chambers doing legal research, looking over cases, and supervising other court staff.
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
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Steps to becoming a Judge
Becoming a judge takes many years. It starts with earning an undergraduate degree and continues with completing law school, passing a bar exam, and practising law. Only once all of these formidable steps are taken can a lawyer begin the process of pursuing a judgeship.
How long does it take to become a Judge?
As noted above, to become a judge first requires becoming a lawyer. Typically, prospective lawyers take a total of seven years to earn their bachelor’s degree and complete law school. Afterwards, they spend at least two months intensely preparing for the state bar exam. For candidates who do not pass the exam on the first attempt, additional time is added to this process.
The type of judgeship one is pursuing will affect the length of time it takes to become a judge. Most positions require several years of experience, but some require none.
What are Judges like?
Based on our pool of users, Judges tend to be predominately artistic people. Yet they are also almost equally ‘enterprising’ and ‘conventional.’ This combination of characteristics speaks to the diverse demands placed on judges: they must at once be sensitive/perceptive in the art of observing those who appear before them, as well as capable and courageous – all while respecting the conventions of the law they are charged with enforcing.
Should I become a Judge?
First ask yourself if you should be a lawyer. To be a judge, you have to be a lawyer first.
Judges make great money – there is no doubt about it. But should you become a judge to get rich? No. Many lawyers make more money than judges do. Should you become a judge for the title and the prestige? No. The desire to be a judge should be rooted in a sense of moral duty and a desire to be an instrument of justice.
Judges have the power to change people's lives, for better or worse. In some regards, this is the best part of the job, but with this privilege comes enormous pressure. A poor or even merely unpopular decision could lead to substantial public backlash. Those negatively affected by your decisions may become angry with you, and may even threaten you or those close to you.
Being in court is many lawyers' favorite part of the job. Judges are in court almost all the time. There is a lot of variety to the work to keep it interesting, and judges mostly report relatively high job satisfaction. On the downside, they are often under strict deadlines, and may not have as much time as they would like to read up on a case before it comes to court.
Making the jump from lawyer to judge is a huge proposition, as there are relatively few positions to fill and the process is a protracted one. It’s also worth noting that some judges feel a sense of professional isolation when they transition to the bench. Their former lawyer colleagues are no longer equals and now have to address them as ‘your honor.’ This new imbalance can put a strain on old friendships.
Judges are also known as:
Magistrate Judge District Court Judge Superior Court Judge Circuit Court Judge County Judge Circuit Judge Court of Appeals Judge District Judge Presiding Judge Trial Judge Probate Judge Chief Judge Senior Judge Hanging Judge Supreme Court Judge Chief Justice of the Supreme Court