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Judge Job Description, Career as a Judge, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

compensation judges court law federal

Education and Training Advanced degree

Salary Median—$93,070 per year

Employment Outlook Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Judges preside over trials and hearings in federal, state, and local courts. They rule on the admissibility of evidence, monitor the testimony of witnesses, and settle disputes between prosecutors and defense attorneys. When standard procedures do not already exist, judges establish new rules based on their own knowledge of the law. They must ensure that all proceedings are fair and protect the legal rights of everyone involved.

Judges often conduct pretrial hearings to determine if the evidence warrants a trial. In criminal cases they must decide whether to hold defendants in jail pending trial or to set bail and other conditions for release. Judges instruct jurors about their duties and advise them of applicable laws. If defendants are found guilty, judges pronounce sentences. They determine verdicts in cases without juries.

Outside the courtroom, judges work in private offices, called chambers, where they read legal briefs and motions, research legal issues, hold hearings with lawyers, and write opinions. They also supervise their courts' administrative and clerical personnel.

Judges' duties vary depending on their jurisdictions and powers. Federal and state trial judges have jurisdiction over all cases in their systems. Administrative law judges are employed by government agencies to rule on appeals of such matters as individuals' eligibility for workers' compensation or the enforcement of health and safety regulations. Appellate court judges have the power to overrule decisions made by federal and state trial judges and administrative law judges if they find legal errors or contradictory legal precedents. Magistrates, or municipal court judges, form the majority of state court judges. Most of their work involves small-claims cases, misdemeanors, and pretrial hearings.

Education and Training Requirements

Almost all judges have law degrees and several years of legal experience. Many states permit individuals who are not lawyers to be administrative law judges and to hold limited-jurisdiction judgeships; however, law degrees are preferred. All federal and state trial and appellate court judges and federal administrative law judges must be lawyers. In addition, federal administrative law judges must pass examinations administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Judges must ensure that court proceedings are fair and that the legal rights of all parties are protected. (© Bob Gomel/Corbis.)

Getting the Job

Judges are either appointed or elected. The president, with Senate approval, appoints federal judges for life. The various federal agencies appoint federal administrative law judges, generally for life. About half of all state judges are appointed; the other half are chosen in statewide elections. Most state and municipal judges serve fixed terms; limited-jurisdiction judges usually serve terms of four to six years, while some appellate court judges serve terms as long as fourteen years.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Judges advance by moving into courts that extend their jurisdictions and powers. Administrative law judges may become trial court judges and, with experience, appellate court judges. They may eventually be elected or appointed to the highest courts in their states or, in very rare cases, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Employment opportunities for judges are expected to be about as good as the average for all jobs through 2014. Although public concerns about crime and the need for justice are likely to increase the demand for judges, cuts in government spending may slow job growth. Most job openings will be created because many judges are retiring early.

Working Conditions

Many judges work a standard forty-hour week, but about a third work more than fifty hours a week. Judges who preside over small-claims or family courts may work evening hours. Criminal arraignments may be held at any time.

Earnings and Benefits

Judges' annual salaries vary according to the type of judgeship. In 2004 the median salary for judges, magistrates, and magistrate judges was $93,070 per year. Judges on federal courts of appeals earned $171,800 per year, while district court judges had salaries of $162,100 per year. Salaries for associate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court were $199,200 per year. The chief justice of the United States was paid $208,100 per year.

The median salary of administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers was $68,930 per year, and arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators earned $54,760 per year.

Associate justices of the states' highest courts earned average salaries of $130,461 per year. State intermediate appellate court judges averaged $122,682 per year.

Where to Go for More Information

American Bar Association
321 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 988-5000
http://www.abanet.org

American Judges Association
National Center for State Courts
300 Newport Ave.
Williamsburg, VA 23185-4147
(757) 259-1841
http://aja.ncsc.dni.us

Benefits for most judges include health, life, and dental insurance; judicial immunity protection; expense accounts; vacation, holiday, and sick leave; and matching contributions to retirement plans.

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almost 5 years ago

Im n college taking paralegal studies and this site is very informal it makes me want to work even harder to become a judge.
p.s.
to the slow people up here being nasty, ignorant and rude you really need to think about who visits these sites and have the knowlegde and maturity to watch what you post. you won't make it very far with that type of mental condition you are showcasing #BOW

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over 5 years ago

I want to be a lawyer then on to a judge when i get out of college and right now i am in high school and i am taking the criminal justice program and love it

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about 8 years ago

Im a high school student and I want to be a judge

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almost 6 years ago

I would like to be a judge to judges the judges because most of the judges here in San Antonio Texas aplay the justice as their convenience not as the law is.

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almost 6 years ago

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almost 6 years ago

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over 5 years ago

i think judges are really cool.I want to be a judge after i become a lawyer

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almost 6 years ago

i want ot be a judge

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about 5 years ago

i am an 7th grader and this is a very GOOD website to use for information.

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about 9 years ago

Hey! I also want to be a judge in the near future. Not just any judge but a family law judge. I'm mentoring for a family law judge at this moment in Alabama. I love sitting in on cases and watching the "show." I'm lerning alot and this site has helped me write me career profile I need for college and career prep. I'm graduate next ear in 2009 and hope to become a judge in my near future!

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about 9 years ago

very useful for some research i've been doing about the legal system. thats :)

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almost 10 years ago

i'm a high school student i want to be a judge im graduating in June8,2007

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over 5 years ago

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about 5 years ago

iam doing this thing for school abotu judges!!!lol!!

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about 5 years ago

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about 6 years ago

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almost 6 years ago

this is actully grat information i learned more about this carrer so it could help me out in the futter to become a great judge

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about 9 years ago

i have plans to excel as a judge in the future...i want to make it big so the world can know me as judge grant..i idolize judge mathis....i know it is a lot of work but i plan to make it there working long and hard.

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about 6 years ago

this was a very helpful site to get my information from thankyou!!!!

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over 5 years ago

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almost 5 years ago

ive always wondered How do judges determind who is lieing and who is not

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about 5 years ago

im in the 6 th grade and i want to be a lawyer really really really bad ive beeen studying and researching all about this job and i know all the responsibilities and material i need and i know what coolege im going to, to become a judge.SO HOW YEER DOIN!

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about 5 years ago

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almost 6 years ago

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over 8 years ago

I would like to be a judge but I think I came to the wrong country's website. The British Judicial system is much different. Good and interesting information though. Thanks!:-D

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almost 6 years ago

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over 5 years ago

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almost 5 years ago

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over 5 years ago

hey//

im a highschool student , and have to do a project for school. i need to interview a judge and see how ther job gos around ... if ur a judge i would apreciated if u hit me up back .....

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about 6 years ago

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over 4 years ago

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about 4 years ago

Hi, i am in high school and i am doing an career profile and i have been wanting to be an judge since the third grade. I admire judge mablean because she is an strong african american judge. who will not tolerate igorance in her court room.