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A judge is an official person who presides over court 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
jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct 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 and arguments 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 judgment. In some
jurisdictions, the judge's powers may be shared with a jury. In inquisitorial
systems of criminal investigation, a judge might also be an examining
A variety of traditions have become associated with the rank or 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 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.
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 common with 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," and never as "Judge," "Judge (name)," "ma'am," or "sir."9
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 "justice(s) of the peace." Judges of the Supreme Court of the United States are addressed as "Justice (name)". The Chief Justice is addressed as "Chief Justice (name)".
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). Download