Judges rule our lives. They are closer than Gods to us, at least from a practical point of view. So read this to gain a better understanding of the role they play, and how they got there – in California anyway, and I didn’t write this.
“A judge oversees everything in the courtroom. A judge must see that all cases assigned to his or her courtroom are handled in a timely manner.
In every case, the judge must be impartial or fair to all parties (the plaintiff(s) and the defendant(s)) involved in the case. If a judge thinks there is any reason that the parties may question the judge’s ability to be fair, the parties and judge must discuss this prior to the start of trial. If there is any reason that a judge might not be able to be impartial, such as the judge is a friend of a person involved in a case, the judge must withdraw from the case. This is called a recusal.
When a case is set for a hearing or for trial, it is the responsibility of the judge to:
* Set the hour for the hearing or trial
* Keep order in the courtroom
* Permit presentation of evidence through testimony of witnesses or the introduction of exhibits
* Make a ruling on a motion
* Decide the outcome (judgment) of the trial
And in jury trials:
* Preside over the selection of the jurors
* Decide on what evidence can be considered by the jurors in making their decision
* Explain the law that applies to the case to the jurors so they can deliberate
* Sentence the defendant if the defendant is found guilty in a criminal case
Qualifications Needed To Become a Judge
There are two ways to become a judge in California:
* To be appointed by the Governor
* To run for election against another judge or for a particular judge’s position
In order to become a judge, a lawyer must be a member of the State Bar of California and have practiced law for at least 10 years.
In order to seek appointment from the Governor, a lawyer must fill out an application, and usually provide letters of support from friends, including lawyers, judges, law school professors, and others who know the candidate’s qualifications. The application is reviewed by the Governor’s staff, and if they feel that the applicant is qualified, the State Bar of California Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation is asked to review the candidate’s application. The commission solicits additional information and recommendations from other lawyers and judges who are familiar with the applicant. If the applicant receives a high rating, the Governor’s staff will submit the application to the Governor, who will then decide whether to grant the appointment. The Governor will appoint a new judge when there is a vacancy at a particular court.
A lawyer may also seek a judicial position by running for election. The lawyer may run against a current judge or run for an open position on a court’s bench. Candidates for judicial election are usually evaluated by a committee of the local bar association, who will rate the candidate(s) and inform the voters before the election.
The term of office for a trial judge in California is six years.”