Judge in the United States
- 1 Judge in the United States
- 1.1 Judge Definition
- 1.2 Judge Risk
- 1.3 Judge in Foreign Legal Encyclopedias
- 1.4 Practical Information
- 184.108.40.206 An officer of the court invested with authority to administer justice. Insofar as power, authority, and duty are concerned, there is no distinction between a judge and a justice. The law in each state specifies whether the members of each court in that state will be designated as judges or justices. In the majority of states, the members of the highest appellate courts are called justices, whereas the members of the trial courts are judges. The lawyer prepares orders and decrees (in U.S. law) for the court’s approval. It is important to know whether the technically correct designation of the court is judge or justice, because these papers always contain the court’s title, either in the heading or in the signature.
- 1.4.1 What is Judge?
- 1.5 The Roles of Judge and Jury in American Law Explained
- 1.6 References
- 1.7 Judge Background
- 1.8 Resources
- 1.9 Judge Definition in the context of the Federal Court System
An officer who presides over a court. A judge is the principal member of a court and is responsible for controlling the proceedings that take place there. The functions of judges vary by the kinds of courts on which they sit. Appellate judges, for example, review the record of proceedings at the trial level. The critical power of appellate judges is making decisions on rules of law. It is a decision making function exercised without assistance from others, such as executive branch officials or juries. The functions of trial judges are more diverse. Trial judges spend a substantial part of their time presiding over trials. Such trials are typically conducted with a jury, so the judge’s role often is to supervise these proceedings rather than actually render a decision on the merits of the case. This function includes such tasks as applying rules of evidence, instructing juries, and maintaining order in the court. Judges perform these functions in trials without juries, but must act as fact-finder as well. While trials consume a great deal of time, very few cases are actually tried. A second function of trial judges is to facilitate settlement of disputes without having to go to trial. Often judges have pretrial conferences or use other methods of dispute resolution to promote agreements between the parties. Finally, trial judges perform various administrative functions. Generally, judges are responsible for the management of their courts. This involves preparing budget requests, recruitment of personnel, and supervision of court facilities. Judges are also responsible for managing case flow in their courts, a problem of major dimensions throughout the country. In many jurisdictions, the demands are sufficiently large and complex that professional Court Administrator (Judicial Personnel issue)s are delegated many of these functions.
A public officer lawfully appointed to decide litigated questions according to law. An ofiicer so named in his commission, and who presides in some court. In its most extensive sense, the term includes (according to the definition of Judge based on the Cyclopedic Law Dictionary ; this definition may need to be proofread) all officers appointed to decide litigated questions while acting in that capacity, including justices of the peace, and even jurors, it is said, who are judges of the facts. 4 Dall. (Pa.) 229; 3 Yeates (Pa.) 300. In ordinary legal use, however, the term is limited to the sense of the second of the definitions here given (15 111. 388), unless it may be that the case of a justice or commissioner acting judicially is to be considered an extension of this meaning.
Analysis and Relevance
Judges exercise discretion at a number of points in the legal process. In doing so, judges must make many subjective judgments. As a member of the courtroom work group, judges are influenced by other process participants. Nonetheless, judges are perceived as the most prestigious members of the work group and can ultimately make their own decisions if they choose. This independence is particularly evident in bail and sentence determinations. While rules governing pretrial release have been established by legislatures and court decisions, most judges develop operating practices based on their own perceptions of the functions of pretrial release or detention, the seriousness of the offense, and the defendant’s prior record. It is fairly common that individual judges fashion their own bail rate schedules. Similarly, judges possess substantial discretion in criminal sentencing. Sentencing discretion may, however, be limited by the use of state guidelines that reduce or eliminate sentencing options. On balance, however, judges retain enough discretion to produce measurable disparities in sentences imposed. The differences prompt defense attorneys to attempt to “judge shop” in multi-judge courts. By using various procedural tactics, it may be possible to maneuver cases to get before a judge who is seen as more favorable. Thus, while the judge is only one member of the courtroom work group, he or she is located at the core of the judicial decision process.
By Bill Blum
On March 18, 1999, H. George Taylor, a Los Angeles County Superior Court commissioner assigned to the domestic relations calendar in Norwalk, was killed by shotgun blasts fired through the driver-side window of his car. Taylor was ambushed in the driveway of his Rancho Cucamonga home as he returned from a retirement dinner for a fellow judge. Taylor’s Mercedes-Benz crashed into the garage. When his wife, Lynda, responded to the noise, she too was shot and killed. Her body was found on the garage floor.
According to former Texas District Judge Susan P. Baker, author of a recent book on murdered judges of the 20th century, Taylor was one of 42 U.S. judges to be killed, a group that includes three federal judges and 39 state, county, and municipal jurists..
Though no arrests have been made in the case, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department maintains an open investigation of the Taylor slayings. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the superior court have each offered rewards of $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for the murders..
Is it safe to be a judge in America? Last February a disgruntled plaintiff in a medical malpractice case murdered the husband and mother of District Judge Joan Lefkow in Chicago. Less than two weeks later, an escaped criminal defendant in a rape case shot and killed Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes, along with three others, in Atlanta. To some observers, it seemed that open season had been declared on judges and their families.
At the same time, there has been a marked uptick in political attacks on judges for their perceived biases in rulings and written opinions. Setting the tone last spring in the aftermath of the Terry Schiavo life-support case, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas raised the prospect of impeachment against “a judiciary run amok.” DeLay’s colleague, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), turned up the rhetorical heat in an April speech criticizing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s vote in a death penalty ruling. Cornyn asked if public anger engendered by what he termed “raw political or ideological decisions … builds up … to the point where some people engage in violence, certainly without justification.”
Though most recent attacks on the judiciary have come from the political right, liberal groups such as People for the American Way, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), and the NAACP have targeted Bush administration court nominees for their supposed judicial philosophy. Whether or not a correlation can be proved between physical attacks on judges and harsh public critiques of their records, the targeting of individual jurists is increasingly common.
California judges have not been immune to these pressures. Though figures on courthouse violence aren’t collected statewide, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported 135 physical altercations in county courts in 2004, up from 122 a year earlier. The department also reported that last year its weapons screeners confiscated thousands of prohibited items, including guns, knives, and razors. On the political front, the California Judges Association made judicial independence the theme of its annual meeting in September, prompted in part by a failed recall attempt against Sacramento Superior Court Judge Loren E. McMaster for upholding the state’s domestic partnership law. (See “Targeted for Recall,” page 30.)
The result for many of the state’s judges is life in a fishbowl, with every aspect of their personal and professional behavior under scrutiny. California Lawyer asked three Los Angeles County Superior Court judges to share their experiences with physical threats or intimidation, and to describe how such threats affect their ability to work..
Just how bad is it?Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen settles into his high-backed desk chair and smiles knowingly as he ponders the question of physical security. “It’s extremely important, and it’s been so for years,” he says. “It appears that judges are fair game, and it’s getting worse.”
Coen, who specializes in death penalty and other high-risk criminal trials in San Fernando, is as familiar as any judge with the hazards of the profession. “I came from the criminal courts as a deputy district attorney [where he headed the Los Angeles District Attorney’s organized crime unit], and I remember one incident where a juror was stabbed in a courthouse bathroom by a transient,” he says. “But what surprises me now is the brazenness of people going against the bench. After Atlanta [the murder of Judge Barnes], it really hits home. You see headlights coming up on you when you’re driving. In the old days, you’d think, ‘There’s someone who’s a bad driver.’ These days, I’m wondering if this is somebody who’s after me.”
Coen also recalls a remark made in 1985 by Chief Justice Ron George-then still a trial judge-at Coen’s group swearing-in ceremony confirming his appointment to the bench. “The chief told us, ‘With every ruling a judge makes, he or she will make one permanent enemy and one temporary friend.’ I’ll never forget that.”
And for good reason. Last March, Erick Morales, a San Fernando Valley gang member accused of double murder, managed to slip a razor blade past the court’s lockup even though Coen had ordered extra security, including the use of a “stealth chair” with hidden restraints to limit the defendant’s movement. Despite such precautions, Morales spit the blade from his mouth and slashed the arm of his trial attorney, Linda Wieder, before bailiffs prevented him from attacking anyone else.
“He actually went for his lawyer’s throat,” Coen says. “But [because of the straps attached to his chair] he couldn’t reach it. The rationale, it turned out, was that Morales thought the civilian clothes he was given smelled, and he felt disrespected.”
Standing alone, the Morales incident would be enough to make any judge think twice about coming to work. But it wasn’t an isolated incident. In an interview with the New York Times just days after Morales’s attack, Coen said that during his 20-year tenure on the bench he had received numerous threats, that deputies from the Judicial Protec-tion Unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department had accompanied him on a number of occasions, and that deputies once had moved into his home to provide around-the-clock security. Coen also told the Times he has all his personal mail forwarded directly to his office, and that he has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Asked about those remarks, Coen says he won’t comment because of a new threat to his personal safety. On September 27 the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed a third-strike felony complaint against a state prison inmate, convicted of attempted murder earlier this year before Coen, for allegedly threatening Coen’s life via the mail.
Surprisingly, Coen shows little apprehension in the face of such threats. In part, that’s because of his confidence in the county’s judicial protection unit, a 13-member team that responds to about 75 threats to county judges a year and provides services ranging from shadowing judges inside the courthouse to in-home guard duty. “I’ve never seen a group of more professional deputies,” Coen says of the unit. “I had a six-month trial last year in which we had three or four bailiffs at a time, a number of them from the unit. To get to me on the bench, someone has to go through a lot of other people.”.
“I understand from some surveys that when the public hears us talk about judicial independence, they think we’re talking about judicial arrogance,” says Judge Sandra A. Thompson of Torrance. Thompson-immediate past president of the National Association of Women Judges, based in Washington, D.C.-sees a direct link between that confusion and the heated public debate in cases such as the legal rights of Terry Schiavo. The problem arises, in Thompson’s view, not only because judges are precluded from speaking publicly about pending cases but also because “you can’t explain some of the concepts we work with in sound bites.”
Similarly, Thompson believes, there is a link between the political rhetoric following Schiavo’s death and the overall level of threats judges face. “It’s different when a felon says I don’t like the judge,” she says. “But when responsible people [such as Senator Cornyn] say such negative things, it creates a feeling among the public that it’s OK to blame judges for everything that’s wrong. Any time you use a judge as a lightning rod, it increases the hostility people feel.”
Although there have been no serious security breaches inside Thompson’s courtroom, she’s received more than her share of threats, either via the telephone or in personal encounters in the South Bay communities of Los Angeles where she has lived for more than 20 years. Her appreciation for personal safety has evolved since her appointment as a municipal court commissioner in 1983. “At first I was rather cavalier about security issues,” she says. “Then someone threatened me”-just months after she assumed the job.
“A young man came into my court, and I denied a [California Penal Code section] 1538.5 search-and-seizure motion regarding his possession of some nunchucks,” Thompson says, as if relating the details of a routine misdemeanor prosecution. “But shortly thereafter, I started getting letters from him asking me to serve as treasurer of his campaign for state treasurer. Finally, I wrote back and told him he couldn’t send campaign materials to me.”
Back then, Thompson lacked a permanent department of her own and would sit in courtrooms left vacant when her colleagues were absent. “This young man found me,” she says, “after what must have been some effort. He phoned my clerk and said, ‘I want the judge dead. I want her brains on the sidewalk.” Thompson contacted the judicial protection unit, and both she and her clerk were called to testify in the defendant’s preliminary hearing in downtown Los Angeles. As part of a plea bargain, the young man was required to undergo mental health treatment.
Appointed to the bench in 1984, Thompson’s career moved forward with no further threats. “I thought the first incident was a fluke or an aberration,” she says. “But then it happened again.” About five years later, in nearly back-to-back incidents, a petty-theft defendant showed up outside the garage area of her condominium and a traffic-court defendant followed her to Centinela Hospital in Inglewood, where Thompson had driven to visit her ailing father. No harm resulted from either incident, or from another phone threat in 1993 involving an inmate in custody.
But ten years after that, in March 2003, came what Thompson calls the final straw. “I used to go to this tiny chapel near my home in Redondo Beach that had about ten African-American members, including me. A man came into the chapel on Sunday morning and began to shout, ‘Sandra, what are we going to do about those warrants for my arrest?’ ”
Thompson calmed the intruder and suggested he come to court the following Tuesday to talk the matter over. The man never showed up. But that Easter, as Thompson was returning home from a walk through her neighborhood, she looked up and nearly lost her breath. “He was right behind me,” she says. “I kept walking, past my house, all the way to the Pacific Coast Highway. Then I looked back, and he wasn’t there.” She hurried home. “On Monday morning, I called a broker and put my house up for sale. I just didn’t feel safe there anymore.”
Neither Thompson nor the local police were able to identify the man, or connect him to any pending cases before her. Thompson moved into a residential hotel before purchasing another home, the location of which she goes to considerable lengths not to reveal. “In the South Bay,” she says, “we have a small, cohesive community. Someone like me doesn’t get anonymity. It’s not like Los Angeles, where it’s so big you just fold into society. We’re likely to run into litigants in the grocery store and elsewhere.” To help protect herself, Thompson has taken the customary steps of having all mail delivered to a post office box and keeping an unlisted telephone number. She also rarely has anyone pick her up at home.
Judge Thompson, single and never married, has only herself to look after. Not so for Judge Leslie A. Dunn, who is assigned to the Van Nuys branch of the Los Angeles Superior Court, where she serves as assistant supervising judge and conducts preliminary hearings in felony prosecutions.
In 1986-only four years after her judicial appointment and with two preschool kids at home-Dunn was forced into a car while out jogging. “A young man pulled up alongside me,” she remembers. “I did not recognize him, and I don’t know if he recognized me. It turned out that he had had a case before me for attempted rape,” she learned after identifying the suspect to police.
To this day, Dunn isn’t sure if her assailant targeted her because of the earlier court appearance or if the incident was merely a crime of opportunity. In any event, she managed to fend off an attempted rape, fight her way out of the vehicle, and scramble to safety. Ultimately, the suspect was released after two juries hung in consecutive trials. “That was a life-altering experience,” Dunn says. “Afterwards, I took much greater care of being aware of my circumstances. I also stopped running for a significant period of time. I didn’t go out in the evenings with the same frequency, and I took a self-defense class.”
Even a lower profile, however, didn’t stop Dunn from being victimized again about a year later. “I was pregnant [with her third child] at the time a young woman began stalking me, continuing for about nine months,” she says. Later, Dunn learned that the woman claimed to have been a prospective juror in her courtroom who wasn’t selected. “My guess is that she was trying to live her life through me,” Dunn says. “She would drive from Van Nuys to the Cedars Sinai Medical Center [in western Los Angeles] and sit in her car while I would go in for prenatal exams. She would follow me everywhere, to the nursery school that my children attended, to the grocery, to the pharmacy, and the cleaners. Finally, the police put a wire on me and a tap on my home phone, and they were able to find out that she had been calling me from a nearby pay phone.” The woman was arrested, pleaded guilty, and was placed on probation, with the condition that she seek mental health counseling and stay away from Dunn. The judge hasn’t heard from her since.
Dunn received death threats from a female domestic-assault defendant in the early 1990s, but she says she has not experienced any further incidents for the past decade. Along the way, she notes, “We had a lot of family discussions about keeping the house locked, and about safety in general.” She asked the judicial protection unit to conduct a safety inspection of her home. “We took the deputies up on most of their suggestions,” she says, installing a better alarm system, panic buttons, and secure perimeter fencing.
With her children grown, Dunn says that today she feels safe in her courtroom and at home. She attributes the change to confidence both in the judicial protection unit and in metal detectors that have been installed throughout county courthouses. Still, she remains keenly aware of security issues. In July, Dunn found competent to stand trial a 66-year-old man from Thousand Oaks accused of shooting a civil attorney on a footpath outside the Van Nuys Superior Courthouse..
So just how dangerous is it to be a judge, and what further steps are needed to safeguard the profession? Many observers believe more reliable data are needed to measure threats to judges and to respond effectively. The U.S. Marshals Service, which is responsible for protecting federal judges, keeps uniform statistics at the federal level. These show a marked increase in threats, up from an average of 238 per year in the 1980s and early 1990s to 674 in 2004. But according to the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) in Williamsburg, Virginia, only 23 states and Washington, D.C., collect similar information.
“At the state level, we don’t have very good systems for collecting data,” says Oregon Circuit Court Judge Gayle Nachtigal, a past president of the American Judges Association. “Until we’re able to capture that information and analyze it, we’re really not going to know how many threats are being made, who is making them, or why.” Last April in Washington, D.C., the NCSC and the National Sheriffs’ Association sponsored a summit meeting on court safety and security that recommended creating a nationwide database for assessing courtroom threats and reporting incidents, and collecting and disseminating best practices for courtroom security.
Both Congress and the courts have shown a willingness to protect judges. In 2004 Congress enacted legislation toughening the penalties against those who threaten judicial officers. And in a strongly worded opinion, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently upheld the conviction of an Arizona federal prison inmate who solicited another inmate to kill a district court judge. (United States v. Stewart, 420 F.2d 1007 (2005).)
But much work remains to be done. California is one of the 27 states with no centralized system for collecting data on judicial threats. In addition, 22 California counties have yet to institute weapons-screening systems in their courthouses. The Judicial Council, however, has taken important steps on both matters, establishing a statewide committee on security issues, sponsoring a statewide survey of trial courts to determine security needs, and lobbying for more security funding. (See “Q&A: Chief Justice Ron George on Judicial Security,” page 32.)
In the meantime, California judges continue to be wary of threats to their security. Still, the judges interviewed for this article expressed no misgivings about their career choice. “I go from one very nice chair in my chambers to another very nice chair on the bench, and I cite the law,” says Judge Coen. “Regrets? Absolutely not. I think I have the best job in the world.”
Targeted for Recall
Not all attempts to retaliate against judges for their rulings involve physical threats. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Loren E. McMaster, who presides over the county’s civil law-and-motion calendar, has often been at the center of high-profile disputes, from Indian gaming issues to confrontations between the California Nurses Association and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. A decision McMaster made last year, however, led to a citizens campaign for his removal.
In September 2004, McMaster affirmed the validity of the state’s domestic partnership law. (Cal. Fam. Code ?297.5.) By November he was targeted for recall by the Campaign for California Families, a Sacramento-based organization opposed to gay marriage. Although recall proponents ultimately failed to collect the required number of voter signatures, the ordeal left an indelible impression on McMaster. “Nobody wants to go through a recall election,” he says. “You can’t help but think it’s a personal attack.”
McMaster bristles most at allegations from the citizens group that his ruling violated his oath of office and revealed him to be a judicial activist. Recall proponents came to the courthouse and combed through McMaster’s old files, looking for other rulings that might be challenged by the losing parties. “They even put out a flyer that linked my ruling with the Pledge of Allegiance case, and with such positions as permitting cross-dressing men to use women’s restrooms and lowering the age of consent [for sexual relations] to 14,” he says. “It was bizarre.”
McMaster denies that he’s a judicial activist, pointing to a unanimous opinion by the court of appeal that upheld his domestic-partnership decision, and to the state Supreme Court’s denial of review. (Knight v. Superior Court, 128 Cal. App. 4th 14 (2005).) “Ironically, [the recall proponents] wanted me to be a judicial activist, to go against what the state Legislature did,” he says. “I declined to legislate from the bench.”
Despite the unavoidable headaches the campaign caused, McMaster insists that it never altered his routine on the bench or caused him to lose sleep. “The main reason it never got to that level,” he says, “is because of the tremendous support I received.” A variety of bar groups-including the American Board of Trial Advocates, the American Judges Association, the American Bar Association, and the California Judges Association-responded to the recall campaign with strong statements of support. That goodwill transformed what could have been a nightmare into what McMaster calls, in retrospect, a “positive experience.”
McMaster draws three important lessons from his experience. “First,” he says, “judges and the legal profession need to educate the public about the role of the judiciary and the rule of law. Second, incendiary rhetoric about the courts on a national level only serves to empower the nut cases out there, and it has to stop. And finally, judges everywhere should know that if they, too, become the targets of recalls, other judges and bar leaders will come to their defense.”
Judge in Foreign Legal Encyclopedias
For starting research in the law of a foreign country:
|Judge||Judge in the World Legal Encyclopedia.|
|Judge||Judge in the European Legal Encyclopedia.|
|Judge||Judge in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia.|
|Judge||Judge in the UK Legal Encyclopedia.|
|Judge||Judge in the Australian Legal Encyclopedia.|
Note: Some of this information was last updated in 1982
The proper form should always be used in writing or speaking to or about court members, see correspondence (in U.S. law), Addressing Officials.
(Revised by Ann De Vries)
What is Judge?
For a meaning of it, read Judge in the Legal Dictionary here. Browse and search more U.S. and international free legal definitions and legal terms related to Judge.
The Roles of Judge and Jury in American Law Explained
- Jury System
Notes and References
- Definition of Judge from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California
- Court Administrator (Judicial Personnel issue) (Judicial Personnel issue)
- Courtroom Work Group (Judicial Personnel issue)
- Discretion (Judicial Personnel issue)
- Magistrate (Judicial Personnel issue).
- Canons of Judicial Ethics
- Code of Judicial Conduct
- Court Opinion
- Discretion in Decision Making
- Judicial Action
- Judicial Conduct
- Judicial Review.
Further Reading (Articles)
Judges Planto Fight Pa. on Forcedretirement, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review; November 16, 2012; Zemba, Liz
Judge Ciparick: Kind-Hearted and Generous, Albany Law Review; January 1, 2012; Perry, Joseph
JUDGES FUME OVER REMEDIAL PROGRAM, The Boston Globe (Boston, MA); June 6, 2005; Jonathan Saltzman, GLOBE STAFF
Retired judges still serve despite age limit ; Cutoff age for election is 70; passing Issue 1 would extend it to 75., Dayton Daily News (Dayton, OH); October 23, 2011; Lou Grieco Ken McCall s
Judges propose overhaul Administrative power would shift to courts, The Boston Globe (Boston, MA); October 13, 1991; Aaron Zitner, Globe Staff
Judges Escape Ethical Punishment, AP Online; August 6, 2002; ANNE GEARAN, Associated Press Writer
JUDGE JOHNSON ANNOUNCES REORGANIZATION OF SUPERIOR COURT IN PINAL COUNTY, US Fed News Service, Including US State News; May 9, 2008
Judges Say More Kids Are at Risk // Wallace Case, Court Understaffing Cited, Chicago Sun-Times; May 11, 1993; Leslie Baldacci
Judges’ vacation time slashed again by Md. Court of Appeals, The Daily Record (Baltimore); December 15, 2009; Steve Lash
Judges get say on plea bargains ; SJC allows deals to be shortened, The Boston Globe (Boston, MA); January 13, 2012; Martine Powers John R Ellement
Judges object to hearings in jail, AZ Daily Star; October 30, 2006; Kim Smith, Arizona Daily Star
Judges Cooperating with Scientists: A Proposal for More Effective Limits on the Federal Trial Judge’s Inherent Power to Appoint Technical Advisors, Vanderbilt Law Review; March 1, 2001; Hess, Robert L., II
When judges need to be judged, Chicago Sun-Times; October 5, 1997; ADRIENNE DRELL
Judge Ngoepe Content Bench Is on Track, The Star (South Africa); October 31, 2012
Judges sit on hot seats They’re told to just rule on evidence before them on ice, The Boston Globe (Boston, MA); February 23, 1994; John Powers, Globe Staff
QUALITY OF JUDGES RUNS THE GAMUT, NEWS STUDY FINDS QUESTIONNAIRES APPLAUD, PAN 28 STATE AND COUNTY JUSTICES, The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY); February 14, 1993; CHARLES ANZALONE – News Staff Reporter
Retired judges in Maryland find work in court, The Daily Record (Baltimore); October 14, 2008; Steve Lash
Judges Sue to Make Pay Keep Pace With Inflation, The Washington Post; January 8, 1998; Anne Farris
Judges opt for bench, not Bench: Experts issue dire warnings of gloom for federal judgeships, Sunday Gazette-Mail; March 16, 2003; Matt Stearns
Judges’ Retirements May Cause Backlog ; Half of Country’s Immigration Judges Eligible to Retire; Takes Time to Vet Replacements, Charleston Daily Mail; December 23, 2013; Wides-Munoz, Laura
Judge Definition in the context of the Federal Court System
An official with statutory authority to decide legal disputes according to the law. Used generically, the term “judge” may refer to all judicial officers, including Supreme Court justices, state and federal judges, military judges, and executive branch appointees who preside over tribunals and other bodies that decide legal disputes. See also “Article III judge,” “magistrate judge,” and “bankruptcy judge.”