How to Become a Judge

If you want to someday be addressed to as “Your Honor”, you should probably be interested in knowing how to become a judge. Judges are typically seen in courts which are government agencies tasked to make decisions on legal cases. In the US, the judicial system provides for trial courts both at the federal and state levels.

What is a Judge?

A judge is the person who has the responsibility and power to preside over court proceedings. He can function alone, as part of a panel of judges, or share powers with a jury. Whatever the case, he is looked upon to practice impartiality and provide all parties of interests in a case, that chance to be heard. A judge generally performs his function in open court. Rulings of judges are expected to be in conformity with law even if it largely reflects his appreciation of the arguments presented and his personal judgment on the matter.

A judge is selected from among law practitioners or lawyers. He cannot be removed from office by the government once appointed has been given. The only way to remove a judge is through a joint resolution of the two houses of parliament (Senate and Congress), a decision which has to be assented to the by the head of state or the President.

The power of a judge to preside over court hearings include over-all supervision of legal proceedings, upholding the rights of all those involved in the legal process at hand, conducting trials following set rules and procedures, and determining how testimonies are to be given and how evidence is to be submitted. Judges give out a guilty or not guilty decision in non-jury criminal cases and rule on liability and compensation in civil cases.

Education and Training

There is no degree program that one can take to become a judge right after graduation. Being a judge requires educational foundation for knowledge, as well as experience for proficiency and confidence. Obtaining the position of a judge requires nomination and getting the nod of the appointing body.

The academic requirements include a bachelor’s degree preferably in political science, business, history, or economics. Students who have dreams of becoming a judge should invest in a degree program that allows them to develop skills in writing, research, and critical thinking. After completing a bachelor’s degree, earning a law degree is the next goal. This would usually be the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degrees.

Prospective lawyers will have to apply for admission to the bar after earning J.D. degrees. They are required to pass the bar exam in their state or jurisdiction of practice. Lawyers can only be appointed or elected to courts after gaining extensive practice and experience.

Becoming a Judge

A successful bid for judgeship is often accompanied by strong support from politicians. Elected or appointed judges are required to undergo training administered by the state. Other training programs may also be required to be completed. Continuing education courses form part of a judge’s career to keep them updated with changes pertaining to law. Openings for judge positions may be limited and dictated by the actual vacancies created by retirement, promotion, or change in career field. Additional positions are produced when new judgeships are approved. When students know how to become a judge, they can better plan their educational and career path.