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The Role of Judges

While it is the role of juries to decide the facts of a case, it’s up to the presiding judge or judges to determine which laws apply and how. This position carries a lot of responsibility – so how exactly do judges get into that position in the first place? The following links should help you understand on how judges get to be judges, and what they do while they’re there.

  • The way judges take to the bench in Washington may be changing. The Washington State Bar Association’s Bar News has these articles about the issue of appointment versus election.
  • Currently, Washington State judges are elected by popular vote. provides detail info about this year’s upcoming judicial elections in Washington State.
  • The American Judicature Society provides info about judges and judicial selection/election for every state, including Washington.  The American Judicature Society also compiles diversity statistics for the bench in every state.
  • Federal Judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate and serve a life term (they may remain judges as long as they like, provided that they remain in good conduct) with the exception of bankruptcy judges and magistrates. The Federal Courts website explains it all here.
  • There are many different types of federal and state courts, for instance: tribal courts, maritime courts, bankruptcy courts and family courts. This article from the Federal Judicial Center gives a brief overview of the different types of federal courts and how they operate.

By: nathan barnes
Last Updated: May 30, 2013 - 8:55am

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