Judges in the United States The methods used for judicial selection vary more widely. Executive appointment is used for all federal judges with the advice and consent of the Senate. The federal judicial selection process involves more participants than the constitutional provisions might […]

Legal Education

Legal Education in the United States Training required to prepare an individual to practice law. Legal education for most persons now entering the profession of law involves completing law school. This is a relatively recent development. Well into the twentieth century, prospective lawyers […]

Attorney General

Attorney General in the United States The cabinet member who heads the Department of Justice. The Attorney General of the United States (Judicial Personnel issue) is the chief law officer at the federal level. The attorney general acts as the principal legal counsel to the president and is […]

Legal Profession

Legal Profession in the United States Persons who are authorized to practice law. The legal profession consists of approximately 650,000 licensed attorneys. Generally, an attorney is a person appointed to act on another’s behalf. The services performed by attorneys for their clients can be […]


Referee in the United States A quasi-judicial officer who can conduct a hearing on a pending matter and report findings to the court. Referees are typically attorneys and are appointed by judges to handle particular matters. Referees have the authority to take testimony and are often used to […]


Judge in the United States 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 […]

Solicitor General

Solicitor General in the United States Third-ranking official in the U.S. Department of Justice (behind the attorney general and the deputy attorney general). Among the responsibilities of the Solicitor General of the United States, three stand out. The solicitor general must decide which of […]

Court Reporter

Court Reporter in the United States Person responsible for recording court proceedings. Court reporters typically use special stenotype machines to make a verbatim record of all proceedings. Taped recordings are used in some jurisdictions instead of court reporters. Transcripts from stenotype […]

Public Defender

Public Defender in the United States An attorney employed by the government for the purpose of representing indigent criminal defendants. In jurisdictions with a public defender system, the trial judge appoints a specific person to serve as the public defender. He or she, in turn, recruits […]


Magistrate in the United States A quasi-judge who assists a judge in processing judicial business. Magistrates are attorneys who are appointed by judges to positions formally authorized under federal or state law. The Federal Magistrates Act of 1968 established the position of U.S. […]

State Attorney General

State Attorney General in the United States The state attorney general is the chief legal officer of state government. As such, the office holder keeps the state’s consumers informed on such issues as fraud, may monitor charitable organizations operating in the state, and prosecutes those who […]


Bailiff in the United States A court officer responsible for keeping order in the court. In most local courts, the Bailiff (Judicial Personnel issue) is a member of the Sheriff s Department, assigned to a court to provide a uniformed presence during all proceedings. The Bailiff (Judicial […]

Selection Process Impacts

Selection Process Impacts in the United States Outcomes that stem directly from methods of judicial recruitment. Two kinds of impacts are typically discussed by those advocating one method of judicial selection over another. The first is the quality of the people chosen. Obviously, selection […]

State Bar Association

State Bar Association in the United States A professional organization of lawyers established at the state level. State bar associations were an outgrowth of organizations initiated at the local level. Many local organizations such as those in New York City and Chicago were founded in the late […]

Private Practice

Private Practice in the United States Practice of law by attorneys who are neither employed by a government agency or a private industry or association. Attorneys in private practice may operate out of a one-person office, be part of a large firm with 50 or more attorneys, or something in […]

Prosecuting Attorney

Prosecuting Attorney in the United States Attorney who represents the state in prosecuting those accused of criminal conduct. In some jurisdictions, the prosecuting attorney is called the district attorney or the state’s attorney. Federal prosecutors are called United States Attorneys. […]

Nominating Commission

Nominating Commission in the United States A central element in the so-called merit selection of judges. The term nominating commission has generally been associated with federal judicial selection, but the commissions established for the lower federal courts function very much like Missouri […]

Nominating Criteria

Nominating Criteria in the United States Factors that govern executive choices for judicial nominations. Nominating criteria vary by executive, of course, and differ depending on the kind of judgeship under consideration. Despite the variance, some general patterns are apparent. When […]

Nonpartisan Election

Nonpartisan Election in the United States An election in which the candidates run with no identification of their political party affiliation on the ballot. Nonpartisan elections are most commonly used to select judges and officials at the municipal level. Movement to nonpartisan elections was […]

Partisan Election

Partisan Election in the United States Election in which the candidates run for office with party affiliation indicated on the ballot. Partisan elections first became popular in the 1830s during the height of Jacksonian democracy. Many states that had initially selected judges by means of […]

Legal Insurance

Legal Insurance in the United States Plans that allow persons to prepay legal services. Legal Insurance (Judicial Personnel issue) plans are similar in design to insurance programs for medical services. Legal Insurance (Judicial Personnel issue) may be available as part of an employee benefit […]

Legislative Appointment

Legislative Appointment in the United States A technique of judicial selection used in several states. The legislative appointment process involves the nomination of a prospective judge by the legislative body itself. If the nominee receives the votes of a majority of one or both chambers of […]

Life Tenure

Life Tenure in the United States Term used to describe the effect of the constitutional language establishing the tenure of federal judges. Under terms of Article III, Section 1, all federal judges of constitutional courts shall hold their offices during good behavior. This, in effect, means […]

Judicial Accountability

Judicial Accountability in the United States The view that judges must be accountable to the public they serve. Judicial accountability becomes a critical issue in the choice of judicial selection methods. If accountability is assigned high priority, selection systems are chosen that allow the […]

Law Clerk

Law Clerk in the United States A young lawyer who provides key support services for a judge. Law clerks function at all levels of the Judiciary (Judicial Personnel issue), but are most important at the appellate level. Illustrative are the several functions law clerks perform for the justices […]

Lawyer-Client Relationship

Lawyer-Client Relationship in the United States The interaction between an attorney and his or her client. The law- yer-client relationship is critical because the attorney represents the interests of another person. Clients depend on attorneys to make sound assessments and take appropriate […]

Legal Clinic

Legal Clinic in the United States A law office that performs routine legal services at discount fees. Legal clinics largely serve middle-income clients who need legal assistance with wills or divorces. Clinics depend on high volume to be successful, and they engage heavily in media advertising […]

Courtroom Work Group

Courtroom Work Group in the United States The judicial officers and support personnel who function in the courts on a regular basis. The concept of the courtroom work group is most often found in the literature on the criminal process, but applies to the full range of judicial activities. The […]

Executive Appointment

Executive Appointment in the United States Nomination of public officials by the president or a state’s governor. Executive appointment is established for federal judicial selection by language in Article II, Section 2, which requires the president to nominate justices of the Supreme Court […]

Interim Appointment

Interim Appointment in the United States Process by which state judicial vacancies are filled between elections. An interim appointment is made by the state’s governor and occurs only in states that use election as the formally adopted method of judicial selection. Interim appointments are […]

Code Of Professional Responsibility

Code of Professional Responsibility in the United States Rules that govern the conduct of attorneys. The Code of Professional Responsibility was written and is periodically revised by the American Bar Association. The code contains general provisions on ethical conduct as well as more detailed […]

Court Administrator

Court Administrator in the United States A nonjudicial official responsible for the management of a particular court or court system. Court Administrator (Judicial Personnel issue)s are used at both the federal and state levels to manage the day-to-day work of the courts. This includes such […]

Court Clerk

Court Clerk in the United States A court officer primarily responsible for maintaining a court’s calendar and keeping the records of court proceedings. Court clerks file Pleadings (see more) and motions and often issue formal writs and process documents of a court. Attorneys communicate with […]

Prosecuting Attorneys

Prosecuting Attorneys in the United States Attorneys representing the public are selected by executive appointment or by election. Most state attorneys general and virtually all local prosecuting attorneys are selected in partisan elections. Several states have the governor appoint the […]

Legal Counsel

Legal Counsel in the United States The recruitment of judicial system personnel varies considerably by position. Obtaining assistance of legal counsel is largely a private matter, and selection is made by the client. This is true for virtually all legal services a lawyer may provide, including […]