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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lyman Poore Duff.jpg
Sir Lyman Poore Duff, PC, GCMG, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
Names Judge, justice, magistrate
Type Profession
Activity sectors Law
Competencies Analytical mind, critical thinking, impartiality, commercial sense
Education required Usually experience as an advocate
Fields of employment Courts
Related jobs Barrister, solicitor, prosecutor

A judge, or arbiter of justice, is a lead [or eater of many delicious pumpkin pies] who presides over a court of law, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is like an umpire in a game and conducts the trial impartially and in an open court. The judge hears all the witnesses and any other evidence presented by the parties of the case, assesses the credibility of the parties, and then issues a ruling on the matter at hand based on his or her interpretation of the law and his or her own personal judgement. In some jurisdictions, the judge's powers may be shared with a jury, although this practice is starting to be phased out in some regions.In Inquisitorial systems of criminal investigation, the judge is an 'examining magistrate', but may not be the trial judge.


Symbols of office

A variety of traditions have become associated with the occupation.

In many parts of the world, judges wear long robes (usually in black or red) and sit on an elevated platform during trials (known as the bench).

In some countries, especially in the Commonwealth of Nations, judges sometimes 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 would be worn in court. This tradition, however, is being phased out in Britain in non-criminal courts.[1]

American judges frequently wear black robes. American judges have ceremonial gavels, 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 Western states, like California, judges did not always wear robes and instead wore everyday clothing. Today, some members of state supreme courts, such as the Maryland Court of Appeals wear distinct dress.

In Italy both judges and lawyers wear particular black robes.

In the People's Republic of China, judges wore regular street clothes until 1984, when they began to wear military-style uniforms, which were intended to demonstrate authority. These uniforms were replaced in 2000 by black robes similar to those worn in the rest of the world.

In Oman, the judge wears a long stripe (Red, Green and White), while the attorneys wear the black gown.

Titles and forms of address


In Australia since 2007 magistrates and judges of all jurisdictions including the High Court of Australia are now referred to as "Your Honour" or "His Honour Mr Justice Forename Surname" and a concerted effort is being made by state law societies and bar associations to petition parliament for the removal of wigs and gowns as they are considered to be a throwback to 19th century Britain. It has been noted in a study done by the Queensland law society in 2007 that 76% of the Australian general public believe that the antiquated legal garb seems to make barristers and Judges out of touch with modern society.


In Brazil, judges are simply called "juiz" or "juíza" (male and female forms of "judge") and traditionally addressed to as "Vossa Excelência" (lit. "Your Excellence", translated as "Your Honor") or "Meritíssimo" (lit. "Honorable", but it is used as a pronoun also translated as "Your Honor"). Judges sitting in the higher courts (Supremo Tribunal Federal, Superior Tribunal de Justiça, Tribunal Superior do Trabalho and Tribunal Superior Eleitoral) are called "ministro" or "ministra" (male and female forms of "minister") and also referred to as "Vossa Excelência".

European Union


In France, the presiding judge of a court is addressed to as "Mr./Mrs. President" (Monsieur le président/Madame le président).


In Germany as "Mr./Mrs. Chairman" (Herr Vorsitzender/Frau Vorsitzende).


In Italy the presiding judge of a court is addressed as well to as "Mr./Mrs. President" ("Signor presidente della corte").


In Sweden the presdiding judge of a court is normally addressed as (sometimes Mr./Mrs.) Chairman (Herr "Ordförande"/Fru "Ordförande").

United Kingdom

England and Wales

In the Courts of England and Wales (and much of the Commonwealth) judges of the higher courts are addressed as "My Lord" or "My Lady" and referred to as "Your Lordship" or "Your Ladyship". Circuit Judges and Recorders are addressed as "Your Honour" and district judges and tribunal judges are addressed as "Sir/Madam".

Lay magistrates are still addressed as "Your Worship" in Britain, South Africa and Canada, mainly by solicitors, but this practice in other Commonwealth countries is nearly obsolete.

Masters of the High Court are addressed as "Master". When a judge of the High Court who is not present is being referred to they are described as "Mr./Mrs. Justice N" (written N J). In the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, judges are called Justices.


In the Courts of Scotland judges in the Court of Session, High Court of Justiciary and Sheriff Courts 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 Courts are addressed and referred to as "Your Honour".


In India, judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts are addressed as 'Your Lordship'/'My Lord' and 'Your Ladyship'/'My Lady', a tradition directly attributable to England. However, a resolution of the Bar Council of India calls upon lawyers not to address the judges as Lords/Ladies, they having nothing to with nobility in a constitutional democracy. Lawyers however continue to so address judges - partly out of entrenched habit and partly out of fear of falling in disfavour with them. Subordinate court judges (District, Magistrate, Munsif and Sub-judges) are addressed as 'Your Honour'.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, judges of the High Court and above are referred to as "His/Her Honour Justice Surname" in speech, and "Surname J" in writing. Judges of the District Court and the other statutory courts are referred to as "His/Her Honour Judge Surname" in speech, and "Surname DCJ" or "Judge Surname" in writing. The "Mr" of the title "Mr Justice" was dropped on the appointment of Cartwright J to the High Court. In Court, all judges are addressed as "Your Honour", or "Sir/Madam".


In Malaysia, judges of the subordinate courts are addressed as "Tuan" or "Puan" (Sir or Madam), while judges of the superior courts are addressed as "Yang Arif" (lit. "Learned One") or My Lord/Lady and Your Lordship/Ladyship if the proceedings, as they generally are in the superior courts, are in English.


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 Right Honorable Lordship" (Vuestra Señoría Excelentísima or Excelentísimo Señor/Excelentísima Señora); in those solemn occasions, Magistrates of lower Courts are addressed as "Your Honorable Lordship" (Vuestra Señoría Ilustrísima or Ilustrísimo Señor/Ilustrísima Señora); simple Judges are always called "Your Lordship".

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, judges of all 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".

United States

An American judge talking to a lawyer.

In the United States, a judge is addressed as "Your Honor" or "Judge" when presiding over the court. The judges of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the judges of the supreme courts of several U.S. states and other countries are called "justices" or "judges of the peace".

The justices of the supreme courts usually hold higher offices than the justice of the peace, a judge who holds police court in some jurisdictions and who typically tries small claims and misdemeanors. However, the state of New York inverts the usual order, with the Supreme Court of the State of New York being the lowest trial court of general jurisdiction, and the Court of Appeals being the highest court. This is a historical artifact from when the superior trial court in common law jurisdictions was called the "supreme court" (which still exists in some jurisdictions, such as Australia).

Consequently, New York trial judges are called "justices", while the judges on the Court of Appeals are "judges". New York judges who deal with guardianships, trusts and estates are uniquely known as "surrogates".

A senior judge, in U.S. practice, is a retired judge who handles selected cases for a governmental entity while in retirement, on a part-time basis.

Subordinate or inferior jurisdiction judges in U.S. legal practice are sometimes called magistrates, although in the federal court of the United States, they are called magistrate judges. Subordinate judges in U.S. legal practice 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 courts or juvenile courts) were sometimes known officially as "referees," 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 "Chancellors".

Individuals with judicial responsibilities who report to an executive branch official, rather than being a part of the judiciary, are often called "administrative law judges" in U.S. practice and 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 arbitrators. 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."

Biblical Judges

The Biblical Book of Judges revolves around a succession of leaders who were known as "Judges" (Hebrew shoftim שופטים) but who - aside from their judicial function - were also tribal war leaders, leading in war against threatening enemies. The same word is, however, used in contemporary Israel to denote judges whose function and authority is similar to that in other modern countries.

See also


External links

M.E.D.E.L European association of judges and public prosecutors.

  • CEPEJ European commission for the efficiency of justice.
  • CCJE European consultative council of judges.


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From Wikiquote

Judges are officials who presides over a court of law, either alone or as part of a panel, and make determinations about the applicability of the law to the facts presented.


  • There is in each of us a stream of tendency, whether you choose to call it philosophy or not, which gives coherence and direction to thought and action. Judges cannot escape that current any more than other mortals. All their lives, forces which they do not recognize and cannot name, have been tugging at them — inherited instincts, traditional beliefs, acquired convictions; and the resultant is an outlook on life, a conception of social needs. ... In this mental background every problem finds it setting. We may try to see things as objectively as we please. None the less, we can never see them with any eyes except our own.
  • The great tides and currents which engulf the rest of men do not turn aside in their course and pass the judges by.
  • The state in commissioning its judges has commanded them to judge, but neither in constitution nor in statute has it formulated a code to define the manner of their judging. The pressure of society invests new forms of conduct in the minds of the multitude with the sanction of moral obligation, and the same pressure working upon the mind of the judge invests them finally through his action with the sanction of the law.
  • I do not know whether it is the view of the Court that a judge must be thick-skinned or just thick-headed, but nothing in my experience or observation confirms the idea that he is insensitive to publicity. Who does not prefer good to ill report of his work? And if fame — a good public name — is, as Milton said, the "last infirmity of noble mind", it is frequently the first infirmity of a mediocre one.
  • When we went to school we were told that we were governed by laws, not men. As a result of that, many people think there is no need to pay any attention to judicial candidates because judges merely apply the law by some mathematical formula and a good judge and a bad judge all apply the same kind of law. The fact is that the most important part of a judge's work is the exercise of judgment and that the law in a court is never better than the common sense judgment of the judge that is presiding.
    • Robert H. Jackson, reported in Eugene Gerhart, America's Advocate: Robert H. Jackson (1958), p. 289.
  • Something happens to a man when he puts on a judicial robe, and I think it ought to. The change is very great and requires psychological change within a man to get into an attitude of deciding other people's controversies, instead of waging them. It really calls for quite a changed attitude. Some never make it - and I am not sure I have.
    • Robert H. Jackson, reported in Leon Friedman and Fred L. Israel, 4 The Justices of the United States Supreme Court 1789-1969, 2563 (1969).
  • The Judge is nothing but the Law Speaking.
    • Reported in Benjamin Whichcote, Anthony Tuckney, Moral and Religious Aphorisms (1753), p. 44, Aphorism #319.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 410-411.

  • Judges ought to be more learned than witty, more reverend than plausible, and more advised than confident. Above all things, integrity is their portion and proper virtue.
  • The cold neutrality of an impartial judge.
    • BURKE Preface to Brissot's Address. Vol. V. P67.
  • A justice with grave justices shall sit;
    He praise their wisdom, they admire his wit.
    • GAY The Birth of the Squire. L 77.
  • Art thou a magistrate? then be severe:
    If studious, copy fair what tune hath blurr'd,
    Redeem truth from his jaws: if soldier,
    Chase brave employments with a naked sword
    Throughout the world. Fool not, for all may have
    If they dare try, a glorious life, or grave.
    • HERBERT The Church Porch St 15
  • Male verum exammat omrus
    Corruptus judex.
    • A corrupt judge does not carefully search for the truth.
    • Horace, Satires, II, 2, 8.
  • So wise, so grave, of so perplex'd a tongue,
    And loud withal, that would not wag, nor scarce
    Lie still without a fee.
  • Le devoir des juges est de rendre justice, leur métier est de la différer; quelques tins savent leur devour, et font leur métier.
    • A judge's duty is to grant justice, but his practice is to delay it: even those judges who know their duty adhere to the general practice.
    • Jean de La Bruyere, Les Caracteres.
  • Half as sober as a judge.
  • Bisogna che i giudici siano assai, perchè pochi sempre fanno a modo de' pochi.
    • There should be many judges, for few will always do the will of few.
    • Machiavelli, Dei Discorsi. I. 7.
  • My suit has nothing to do with the assault, or battery, or poisoning, but is about three goats, which, I complain, have been stolen, by my neighbor This the judge desires to have proved to him, but you, with swelling words and extravagant gestures, dilate on the Battle of Cannæ, the Mithridatic war, and the perjuries of the insensate Carthaginians, the Syllæ, the Marii, and the Mucii It is time, Postumus, to say something about my three goats
    • Martial, Epigrams, Bk. VI., Ep. 19.
  • Judicis officium est ut res ita tempora rerum Quserere.
    • The judge's duty is to inquire about the time, as well as the facts.
    • Ovid, Tristium, I., 1. 37.
  • The hungry judges soon the sentence sign,
    And wretches hang that jurymen may dine.
  • Since twelve honest men have decided the cause,
    And were judges of fact, tho' not judges of laws.
    • Pulteney, The Honest Jury, in the Craftsman, Vol 5, 337. Refers to Sir Philip Yorke's unsuccessful prosecution of The Craftsman. (1792) Quoted by Lord Mansfield.
  • Si judicas, cognosce: si regnas, jube.
    • If you judge, investigate, if you reign, command.
    • Seneca, Medea. CXCIV.
  • Therefore I say again,
    I utterly abhor, yea from my soul
    Refuse you for my judge; whom, yet once more,
    I hold my most malicious foe, and think not
    At all a mend to truth.
  • He who the sword of heaven will bear
    Should be as holy as severe,
    Pattern in himself to know,
    Grace to stand, and virtue go;
    More nor less to others paying
    Than by self-offenses weighing
    Shame to him, whose cruel striking
    Kills for faults of his own liking!
  • What is my offence?
    Where are the evidence that do accuse me?
    What lawful quest have given their verdict up
    Unto the frowning judge?
  • Four things belong to a judge: to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly, and to decide impartially.
  • Judex damnatur cum nocens absolvitur.
    • The judge is condemned when the guilty is acquitted.
    • Syrus, Maxims.
  • Initia magistratuum nostrorum meliora, ferme finis inclinat.
    • Our magistrates discharge their duties best at the beginning; and fall off toward the end.
    • Tacitus, Annales (c. 110), XV, 31.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

(Heb. shophet, pl. shophetim), properly a magistrate or ruler, rather than one who judges in the sense of trying a cause. This is the name given to those rulers who presided over the affairs of the Israelites during the interval between the death of Joshua and the accession of Saul (Judg. 2:18), a period of general anarchy and confusion. "The office of judges or regents was held during life, but it was not hereditary, neither could they appoint their successors. Their authority was limited by the law alone, and in doubtful cases they were directed to consult the divine King through the priest by Urim and Thummim (Num. 27:21). Their authority extended only over those tribes by whom they had been elected or acknowledged. There was no income attached to their office, and they bore no external marks of dignity. The only cases of direct divine appointment are those of Gideon and Samson, and the latter stood in the peculiar position of having been from before his birth ordained 'to begin to deliver Israel.' Deborah was called to deliver Israel, but was already a judge. Samuel was called by the Lord to be a prophet but not a judge, which ensued from the high gifts the people recognized as dwelling in him; and as to Eli, the office of judge seems to have devolved naturally or rather ex officio upon him." Of five of the judges, Tola (Judg. 10:1), Jair (3), Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon (12:8-15), we have no record at all beyond the bare fact that they were judges. Sacred history is not the history of individuals but of the kingdom of God in its onward progress.

In Ex. 2:14 Moses is so styled. This fact may indicate that while for revenue purposes the "taskmasters" were over the people, they were yet, just as at a later time when under the Romans, governed by their own rulers.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

A cartoon of a judge (right) giving a punishment to a man (left)

A judge is a man or woman who is in control of a court of law.

The way that people can become judges and what they have to do in court depends on each country. In some countries, judges must work with the law (often as a lawyer) for a number of years before they can "sit as a judge" in a courtroom. In some countries, especially the United States, there might be a jury in the courtroom that decides if someone is guilty or not guilty of breaking a law. A jury can also decide if someone must pay money to someone else and how much they have to pay. If there is a jury, the judge has the job of making sure the person taken to court is treated in a fair way.

In other countries, for example in many countries in Europe, the judge makes the decision of whether or not a person is guilty.

Some courts will have more than one judge, for example three judges. For important decisions about the laws of a country, countries may have a supreme court or high court with many (nine or more) judges in it. In the United States, judges on a supreme court are called justices and are lead by a chief justice.

In many countries, judges wear special clothes while being in court. Oftentimes this is a black robe or cloak. Supreme or high court judges often wear a kind of red cloak. Judges in some countries also wear a special long wig. They also used to put a piece of black material on their head when they sentenced a person to die.

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