A judge is a person who presides
proceedings, either alone or as a part of a panel of judges
. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdiction
s. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially
and, typically, in an open court
. The judge hears all the witness
es and any other evidence
presented by the barristers or solicitors of the case, assesses the credibility and arguments
of the parties, and then issues a ruling on the matter at hand based on their interpretation of the law and their own personal judgment. In some jurisdictions, the judge's powers may be shared with a jury
. In inquisitorial system
s of criminal investigation
, a judge might also be an examining magistrate
. The presiding judge ensures that all court proceedings are lawful and orderly.
The ultimate task of a judge is to settle a legal dispute in a final and public manner, and thus affirm the rule of law
. Judges exercise significant governmental power. They can order police, military or judicial officials to execute searches, arrests, imprisonments, garnishments, distrainments, seizures, deportations and similar actions. However, judges also supervise that trial procedures are followed, in order to ensure consistency and impartiality and avoid arbitrariness. The powers of a judge are checked by higher courts such as appeals courts and supreme courts.
Before the trial, a pre-trial investigation collecting the facts has been conducted by police officials, such as police officer
s and coroner
s or public procurator
s. The court usually has three main legally trained court officials: the judge, the prosecutor and the defence attorney. The role of a judge varies between legal systems. In an adversarial system
(common law), as in effect in the U.S. and England, the judge functions as an impartial referee, mainly ensuring correct procedure, while the prosecution and the defense present their case to a jury
, often selected from common citizens. The main factfinder is the jury, and the judge will then finalize sentencing. Nevertheless, in smaller cases judges can issue summary judgment
s without proceeding to a jury trial. In an inquisitorial system
(civil law), as in effect in continental Europe, there is no jury and the main factfinder is the judge, who will do the presiding, judging and sentencing on his own. As such, the judge is expected to apply the law directly, as in the French expression ''Le juge est la bouche de la loi'' ("The judge is the mouth of the law"). Furthermore, in some system even investigation may be conducted by the judge, functioning as an examining magistrate
Judges may work alone in smaller cases, but in criminal, family and other significant cases, they work in a panel. In some civil law systems, this panel may include lay judge
s. Unlike professional judges, lay judges are not legally trained, but unlike jurors, lay judges are usually volunteers and may be politically appointed. Judges are often assisted by law clerk
and notaries in legal cases and by bailiff
s or similar with security.
Requirements and appointment
There are both volunteer and professional judges. A volunteer judge, such as an English magistrate
, is not required to have legal training and is unpaid. Whereas, a professional judge is required to be legally educated
; in the U.S., this generally requires a degree of Juris Doctor
. Furthermore, significant professional experience is often required; for example, in the U.S., judges are often appointed from experienced attorney
s. Judges are often appointed by the head of state
. In some U.S. jurisdictions, however, judges are elected in a political election.
Impartiality is often considered important for rule of law
. Thus, in many jurisdictions judges may be appointed for life, so that they cannot be removed by the executive. However, in non-democratic systems, the appointment of judges may be highly politicized and they often receive instructions on how to judge, and may be removed if their conduct does not please the political leadership.
Judge as an occupation
Judges must be able to research and process extensive lengths of documents, witness testimonies, and other case material, understand complex cases and possess a thorough understanding of the law and legal procedure, which requires excellent skills in logical reasoning, analysis and decision-making. Excellent writing skills are also a necessity, given the finality and authority of the documents written. Judges work with people all the time; by the nature of the job, good dispute resolution and interpersonal skills are a necessity.
Judges are required to have good moral character
, i.e. there must be no history of crime. Professional judges often enjoy a high salary, in the U.S. the median salary of judges is $101,690 per annum,
and federal judges earn $208,000–$267,000 per annum.
Symbols of office
up17th century Spanish
judge in full gowns, by Velázquez.
A variety of traditions have become associated with the rank or occupation. Gavel
s (a ceremonial hammer) are used by judges in many countries, to the point that the gavel has become a symbol of a judge. In many parts of the world, judges wear long robe
s (often in black or red) and sit on an elevated platform during trials (known as the bench).
American judges frequently wear black robes. American judges have ceremonial gavel
s, although American judges have court deputies or bailiffs and ''contempt of court
'' power as their main devices to maintain decorum in the courtroom. However, in some of the Western United States
, like California, judges did not always wear robes and instead wore everyday clothing. Today, some members of state supreme court
s, such as the Maryland Court of Appeals
wear distinct dress. In Italy and Portugal
, both judges and lawyers wear particular black robes.
In some countries, especially in the Commonwealth of Nations
, judges wear wigs
. The long wig often associated with judges is now reserved for ceremonial occasions, although it was part of the standard attire in previous centuries. A short wig resembling but not identical to a barrister
's wig (a Bench Wig) would be worn in court. This tradition, however, is being phased out in Britain in non-criminal courts.
, the judge wears a long stripe (red, green white), while the attorneys wear the black gown.
In Portugal and in the former Portuguese Empire
, the judges used to carry a staff that was red for ordinary judges and white for the judges from the outside
Titles and forms of address
In Hong Kong
, court proceedings are conducted in either English or Hong Kong Cantonese
(a dialect of Yue Chinese
). Judges of Hong Kong retain many of the English traditions such as wearing wigs and robes in trials.
In the lower courts, magistrates are addressed as ''Your worship'', and district court judges as ''Your Honour''.
In the superior courts of record, namely the Court of Final Appeal
and the High Court
(which consists of the Court of Appeal
and the Court of First Instance
), judges are addressed as ''My Lord'' or ''My Lady'' and referred to as ''Your Lordship'' or ''Your Ladyship'', following the English tradition.
In writing, the post-nominal letters ''PJ'' is used to refer to a permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal and ''NPJ'' to a non-permanent judge. In the High Court, the abbreviation ''JA'' is used to denote a justice of appeal, and the letter ''J'' refers to a judge of the Court of First Instance.
of the High Court are addressed as ''Master''.
When trials are conducted in Chinese, judges were addressed, in Cantonese, as ''Fat Goon Dai Yan'' () before the transfer of sovereignty from the United Kingdom to China, and as ''Fat Goon Gok Ha'' () since 1997. ''Fat Goon'' () means the word "judge".
In India, judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts were addressed as ''Your Lordship'' or ''My Lord'' and ''Your Ladyship'' or ''My Lady'', a tradition directly attributable to England. The Bar Council of India
had adopted a resolution in April 2006 and added a new Rule 49(1)(j) in the Advocates Act
. As per the rule, lawyers can address the court as ''Your Honour'' and refer to it as ''Honourable Court''. If it is a subordinate court, lawyers can use terms such as ''sir'' or any equivalent phrase in the regional language concerned. Explaining the rationale behind the move, the Bar Council had held that the words such as ''My Lord'' and ''Your Lordship'' were "relics of the colonial past". The resolution has since been circulated to all state councils and the Supreme Court for adoption but over five years now, the resolution largely remained on paper.
However, in an unprecedented move in October 2009, one of the judges of Madras HC, Justice K Chandru had banned lawyers from addressing his court as ''My Lord'' and ''Your Lordship''.
In Israel, the judges () of all courts are addressed as ''Sir'', ''Madam'' () or ''Your Honor'' (). Typically after every naming you will hear ''haShofét'', meaning "the judge" after the respective address. For example, ''Your Honor the Judge'' would be (''kevod haShofét'').
In Malaysia, judges of the subordinate courts are addressed as ''Tuan'' or ''Puan'' ("Sir", "Madam"), or ''Your Honour''. Judges of the superior courts are addressed as ''Yang Arif'' () or ''My Lord'', ''My Lady'', etc.; and ''Your Lordship'' or ''My Ladyship'' if the proceedings, as they generally are in the superior courts, are in English.
In Pakistan, judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts are addressed as ''Your Lordship'' or ''My Lord'' or ''Lordship'' and ''Your Ladyship'' or ''My Lady'', a tradition directly attributable to England. There is some resistance to this on religious grounds but more or less continues till this day. In lower courts, judges are addressed as ''sir'', ''madam'' or the Urdu
equivalent ''Janab'' or ''Judge Sahab''.
In Sri Lanka
, judges of most courts are addressed as ''Your Honour'', however the Chief Justice
is addressed as ''Your Lordship''. Judges of the Supreme Court
and the Appeal Court receives the title ''The Honourable''.
Judges in Vietnam
are addressed as ' (literally the "Honorable Court").
before 1989 during the communist regime, judges were addressed as ''drugarju'' (). After 1989, ''gospodín sŭdiya'' () or ''gospožo sŭdiya'' ().
There is no special form of address; ordinary politeness is sufficient and the procedure lacks arcane rituals. Accordingly, the chairman of the panel is addressed as ''herra/rouva puheenjohtaja'' ("Mr./Ms. Chairman"). Finnish judges use gavels, but there are no robes or cloaks used in any Finnish courts.
In a district court (''käräjäoikeus''), ordinary judges work with the title ''käräjätuomari'' and the chairman is ''laamanni'' (lawspeaker
). They are assisted by notaries (''notaari''), assessors (''asessori'') and referendaries (''viskaali'') who may sometimes even chair sessions. In appeals courts (''hovioikeus'') an ordinary judge has the title ''hovioikeudenneuvos'', the chairman of a section is ''hovioikeudenlaamanni'' and the court is led by a ''presidentti''. In the Supreme Court, judges are titled ''oikeusneuvos'' and the court is led by a ''presidentti''.
In France, the presiding judge of a court is addressed as ''Monsieur le président'' or ''Madame le président'', whilst associated judges are addressed as ''Monsieur l'Assesseur'' or ''Madame l'Assesseur''. Out of the courtroom, judges are referred to as ''Monsieur le juge'' or ''Madame le juge''.
In Germany, judges are addressed as ''Herr Vorsitzender'' or ''Frau Vorsitzende'', which translate as "Mister Chairman" and "Madam Chairwoman", or as ''Hohes Gericht'', which translates as "High Court".
The male presiding judge of a court is addressed as ''tisztelt bíró úr'', which means "Honourable Mister Judge" and a female presiding judge is addressed as ''tisztelt bírónő'', which means "Honourable Madam Judge". The court as a body can be addressed as ''tisztelt bíróság'', which means "Honourable Court".
Judges of the Supreme Court
, Court of Appeal
, or High Court
are officially titled ''The Honourable Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss Justice Surname'' (), and informally referred to for short as ''Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss Justice Surname''. In court, they are addressed either by their respective titles or styles, as ''The Court'' (''An Chúirt''), or simply ''Judge'' (''A Bhreithimh''). In law reports
, the Chief Justice of Ireland
has the postnominal ''CJ'', the Presidents of the other Courts have the postnominal ''P'', and all other judges ''J'', e.g. ''Smith J''.
Judges of the Circuit Court
are titled ''His/Her Honour Judge Surname'' and are addressed in Court as ''Judge''. Before 2006, they were addressed as ''My Lord'' (''A thiarna'') .
Judges of the District Court
are titled ''Judge Surname'' and addressed in Court as ''Judge''. Before 1991 these judges were known as District Justices and addressed as ''Your Worship'' (''d'Onóra'').
In Italy, the presiding judge of a court is addressed as ''Signor presidente della corte''.
In the Netherlands
, presiding judges of either sex are, in writing only, addressed ''edelachtbare'' ("Your Honour") for judges in the Court of First Instance, ''edelgrootachtbare'' ("Your Great Honour") for justices in the Court of Appeal and ''edelhoogachtbare'' ("Your High Honour") for justices in the High Council of the Netherlands (Supreme Court).
In Poland, presiding judges of either sex during trial are addressed ''Wysoki Sądzie'' ("High Court").
, presiding judges during trial are addressed as ''Meretíssimo Juiz'' when a man or ''Meretíssima Juíza'' when a woman (meaning "Most Worthy Judge") or as ''Vossa Excelência'' ("Your Excellency") when not specifying gender.
In Russia, ''Vasha Chest'' () is used for criminal cases only with the one judge presiding.
For civil, commercial and criminal cases presided over by a panel of judges the right address is ''Honorable Court''.
In Spain, magistrates of the Supreme Court, magistrates and judges are addressed to as "Your Lordship" (''Su Señoría''); however, in formal occasions, magistrates of the Supreme Court are addressed to as "Your Most Excellent Lordship" (''Vuestra Señoría Excelentísima'' or ''Excelentísimo Señor''/''Excelentísima Señora''); in those solemn occasions, magistrates of lower Courts are addressed as "Your Most Illustrious Lordship" (''Vuestra Señoría Ilustrísima'' or ''Ilustrísimo Señor''/''Ilustrísima Señora''); simple judges are always called "Your Lordship".
In Sweden, the presiding judge of a court is normally addressed as ''Herr Ordförande'' or ''Fru Ordförande'', which translate as "Mister Chairman" and "Madam Chairwoman".
=England and Wales
In the Courts of England and Wales
, Supreme Court
judges are called Justices of the Supreme Court. Justices of the Supreme Court who do not hold life peerages are now given the courtesy style "Lord" or "Lady." Justices of the Supreme Court are addressed as "My Lord/Lady" in court. In the law reports, the Justices of the Supreme Court are usually referred to as "Lord/Lady N", although the Weekly Law Reports appends the post-nominal letters "JSC" (e.g. "Lady Smith JSC"). The President and Deputy President of the Court are afforded the post-nominal letters PSC and DPSC respectively. Only experienced barrister
s or solicitor
s are usually appointed as judges.
Judges of the High Court
and Court of Appeal
(when sitting in those courts) as "My Lord" or "My Lady" and referred to as "Your Lordship" or "Your Ladyship".
Judges of the Court of Appeal, also called Lords Justice of Appeal
, are referred to as "Lord Justice N" or "Lady Justice N." In legal writing, Lords Justices of Appeal are afforded the post nominal letters "LJ:" for example, Smith LJ.
When a Justice of the High Court
who is not present is being referred to they are described
as "Mr./Mrs./Ms. Justice ''N.''" In legal writing, the post-nominal letter "J" is used to denote a Justice (male or female) of the High Court: for example, Smith J. Masters
of the High Court
are addressed as "Master". Insolvency and Companies Court
judges in the High Court are addressed as “Judge”.
are addressed as "Your Honour". Circuit judges are referred to as "His/Her Honour Judge N." In writing, this title is occasionally abbreviated as "HHJ" or "HH Judge N", but not in legal writing. District judges
judges are addressed as "Sir/Madam".
are sometimes still addressed as "Your Worship
" in much of England. Lay magistrates are also addressed as "Sir/Madam."
In the Courts of Scotland
judges in the Court of Session
, High Court of Justiciary
and the sheriff court
s are all addressed as "My Lord" or "My Lady" and referred to as "Your Lordship" or "Your Ladyship".
Justices of the peace
in justice of the peace court
s are addressed and referred to as "Your Honour".
The judicial system of Northern Ireland
is very similar to that of England and Wales, and superior court judges are addressed the same way as those in England and Wales. However, there are a few differences at the lower levels.
In Northern Ireland, the equivalent to a circuit judge is a county court
judge, and they are addressed and titled the same way as a circuit judge is in England and Wales. The senior county court judges assigned to the county court divisions of Belfast
have the titles of Recorder of Belfast
and Recorder of Londonderry (or Derry) respectively, but are addressed the same as other county court judges. A district judge sitting in the County Court is addressed as "Your Honour".
A district judge (magistrates' court) is addressed as "Your Worship". A lay magistrate, in cases where they are present, is also addressed as "Your Worship", and may use the post-nominals "LM", e.g. "John Smith LM".
In general, Canadian judges may be addressed directly, depending on the province, as "My Lord", "My Lady", "Your Honour" or "Justice" and are formally referred to in the third person as "The Honourable Mr. (or Madam) Justice 'Forename Surname'". Less formally, judges of a Superior Court are referred to as "Justice 'Surname'", not as "Judge 'Surname.'" When referred to in a decision of a court, judges' titles are often abbreviated to the suffix "J.", so that Justice Smith will be referred to as Smith J. Judges in some superior courts are addressed as "My Lord" or "My Lady". In Ontario
, judges are rarely referred to as "My Lord" or "My Lady," but only as "Your Honour" at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice
. Formerly, translations of these titles such as ''Votre Honneur'' ("your honour") or ''Votre Seigneurie'' ("your lordship") were used in French; today, only ''Monsieur le juge'' and ''Madame la juge'' are officially used. Both the titles "judge" and "justice" are translated ''juge.''
Generally, it is only appropriate to use the term "judge" when speaking of an anonymous or general position, such as "the trial judge," or when referring to a member of an inferior or provincial court such as the Ontario Court of Justice. The exception is Citizenship Judge
s who are referred to only as "Judge 'Surname.'" in accordance with their appointment as independent decision makers of the Citizenship Commission
Like other members of the Commonwealth, a justice of the peace
is addressed as "Your Worship," and a Master of a Superior Court
is referred to as “Master”. As of December 7, 2018, Ontario Court Masters are addressed in English as “Your Honour” and in French as “Votre Honneur” and no longer as “Master”.
In many states
throughout the United States
, a judge is addressed as "Your Honor" or "Judge" when presiding over the court. "Judge" may be more commonly used by attorneys and staff, while either may be commonly used by the plaintiff or defendant. Notably, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County
, the largest unified trial court in the United States, has a rule that the judge shall be addressed only as "Your Honor" while in court, and never as "Judge," "Judge (name)," "ma'am," or "sir." This is somewhat unusual as "Judge" and "Judge (name)" or similar forms of address are considered appropriate and respectful in many other courts.
The judges of the Supreme Court of the United States
, and the judges of the supreme courts
of several US states
and other countries are called "justices". Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States
and Justices of other courts are addressed as "Justice (name)." The Chief Justice of the United States is formally addressed as "Mr. or Madam Chief Justice" but also may be identified and addressed as "Chief Justice (name)".
The justices of the supreme courts usually hold higher offices than any other judges in a jurisdiction, including a justice of the peace
, a judge who holds police court in some jurisdiction
s and who may also try small claims
s. However, the State of New York
inverts this usual order. The initial trial court in this state is called the Supreme Court of New York, and its judges are called "justices". The next highest appellate court is the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, whose judges are also called "justices". However, the highest court in New York is called the New York Court of Appeals, whose members are called "judges".
Judges in certain jurisdictions, such as New York and New Jersey, who deal with guardianships, trusts and estates are known as "surrogate
A ''senior judge
,'' in US practice, is a retired judge who handles selected cases for a governmental entity while in retirement, on a part-time
Subordinate or inferior jurisdiction judges in US legal practice are sometimes called magistrate
s, although in the federal court of the United States, they are called magistrate judges
. Subordinate judges in US legal practice who are appointed on a case-by-case basis, particularly in cases where a great deal of detailed and tedious evidence must be reviewed, are often called "masters" or "special masters" and have authority in a particular case often determined on a case-by-case basis.
Judges of courts of specialized jurisdiction (such as bankruptcy court
s or juvenile court
s) were sometimes known officially as "referee
s," but the use of this title is in decline. Judges sitting in courts of equity in common law
systems (such as judges in the equity courts of Delaware
) are called "chancellor
Individuals with judicial responsibilities who report to an executive branch official, rather than being a part of the judiciary, are often called "administrative law judge
s" in US practice. They were previously known as hearing examiners. They commonly make initial determinations regarding matters such as workers' compensation
, eligibility for government benefits, regulatory matters, and immigration determinations.
Judges who derive their authority from a contractual agreement of the parties to a dispute, rather than a governmental body, are called arbitrator
s. They typically do not receive the honorific forms of address nor do they bear the symbolic trappings of a publicly appointed judge. However, it is now common for many retired judges to serve as arbitrators, and they will often write their names as if they were still judges, with the parenthetical "(Ret.)" for "Retired."
Unlike many civil law countries which have some courts on which panels of judges with nearly equal status composed of both legally trained professional judges and lay judges who lack legal training and are not career judges, the United States legal system (like most Anglo-American legal systems) makes a clear distinction between professional judges and laypeople involved in deciding a case who are jurors who are part of a jury
. Most but not all US judges have professional credentials as lawyers. Non-lawyer judges in the United States are often elected, and are typically either justices of the peace or part-time judges in rural limited jurisdiction courts
. A non-lawyer judge typically has the same rights and responsibilities as a lawyer who is a judge holding the same office and is addressed in the same manner.
judges and, since 2007, magistrates, of all jurisdictions including the High Court of Australia
are now addressed as "Your Honour". In legal contexts, they are referred to as "His/Her Honour" and "the Honourable Justice Surname" (for judges of superior courts) or "his/her Honour Judge Surname" (for inferior courts). Outside legal contexts, the formal terms of address are "Judge" (for puisne justices) or "Chief Justice" (for chief justices).
The title for most puisne judges is "Justice", which is abbreviated in law reports to a postnominal "J", in the form "Surname J". Chief Justices of the High Court and of state Supreme Courts are titled "Chief Justice", which is abbreviated in law reports to a postnomial "CJ". Judges in State Supreme Courts with a separate Court of Appeal division (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia) are referred to as Justices/Judges of the Appeal (abbreviated "Surname JA"), while the President of the Court of Appeal is referred to as "President" (abbreviated "Surname P").
In New Zealand
, judges of the District Court of New Zealand
generally referred to as "His/Her Honour" or "Sir/Madame." Judges from the High Court
, Appeals Court
, and Supreme Court
are referred to as "Justice urname
" In social settings, it is appropriate to use "Judge" in all cases.
, judges are simply called "Juiz" or "Juíza" (male and female forms of "judge") and traditionally addressed to as "Vossa Excelência" (, translated as ‘Your Honor’) or "Meritíssimo" (‘Honorable’, but it is used as a pronoun also translated as ‘Your Honor’). Judges that are part of a panel in a State Court, or Federal Court are called "desembargadores". Judges sitting in the higher courts (Supremo Tribunal Federal
, Superior Tribunal de Justiça
, Tribunal Superior do Trabalho
, Superior Tribunal Militar and Tribunal Superior Eleitoral
) are called "ministro" or "ministra" (male and female forms of "minister") and also referred to as "Vossa Excelência".
At the International Court of Justice
, judges may be addressed by the titles they received in their countries of origin.
Judges of the International Criminal Court
are referred to as "judge."
Biblical and Israeli judges
The Biblical Book of Judges
revolves around a succession of leaders who were known as "judges"
shoftim שופטים) but who – aside from their judicial function – were also tribal war leaders. The same word is, however, used in contemporary Israel
to denote judges whose function and authority is similar to that in other modern countries. The same word is also used in modern Hebrew for referee
s in any kind of contest and in particular in sport. To distinguish them from judicial judges and from each other, the kind of the contest is added after the word "shofet" in the Construct state
(e.g. "shofet kaduregel" שופט כדורגל, literally "judge of soccer").
*List of jurists
State of California Commission of Judicial PerformanceCEPEJ
European commission for the efficiency of justice.
European consultative council of judges.
How sentencing works: You be the JudgeDirectgov
Crown Court – what it does (Directgov, England and Wales)
Category:Positions of authority