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Types of Judges in State and Federal Judiciary

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What types of judges are part of the judiciary?

There are many types of judges in the legal system.

Federal System

    • Specialty Court Judges – Judges that preside over the various special courts designed by Congress under Congress, such as bankruptcy courts and courts-martial.

State Judicial System

  • State Magistrate Judges – Specialty court judges who preside over county or small claims courts. They also serve the function of granting warrants, holding probable cause hearings, and presiding over initial appearances.
  • State Supreme Court Justices – Appellate judges (Justices) sitting in the highest appellate court in the state.
  • State Administrative Judges – Judges presiding over the administrative agencies created by the state legislature.
  • Specialty Court Judges – Judges presiding over special courts designated by the state constitution or legislature. Special court judges may include: family court judges, probate court judges, and masters in equity.

Some jurisdictions may have special names, designations, qualifications, etc., for judges presiding over a specific court.

Discussion: How do you feel about the distinct roles of judges in different courts? Do you think should be distinct qualifications (education and training) for judges presiding over a particular court?

  • Input on Discussion: Many would argue that having judges with distinct roles in different courts is essential to ensuring that the courts are able to dispense justice effectively and efficiently. For the purpose of uniformity and consistency , there should probably be a consistent level of education, though the training may need to be distinct based upon the needs of the court.

Practice Question: Given what you know about the federal and state legal systems, what are the similarities and differences between the types of judges in the state and federal system?

  • Proposed Answer: Differences – Federal judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate; whereas, state court judges are selected in a variety of ways like popular election, election through the state legislature, or appointment by the State Governor. Similarity – They both serve similar functions in different legal systems. The federal judges deal with matters that involve federal law; whereas, State court judges primarily deal with state law matters.

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