How Does a Judge Spend a Workday?
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There are many different kinds of judges, from traffic court judges through supreme court judges. While their duties may differ in the types of cases they see on a daily basis, their basic duties are all the same, from sitting on the bench to drafting orders and making decisions.
Lower Tribunal Court Judges
Judges of the lower tribunal courts, such as traffic court, family law court, felony court, probate court and civil courts all sit on the bench (preside over trials and hearings) almost every day. A probate court judge may not see as many trials as a family law judge or a felony court (criminal court) judge, depending on the jurisdiction of the court.
Judges will normally schedule hearings during a certain time of the day, then reserve part of the day to draft orders. If the particular venue uses general magistrates, they will draft a Report and Recommendations of General Magistrate, which is then sent to the division judge. He then reviews the document and drafts an Order on Report and Recommendations of the General Magistrate.
Some courts, usually family law courts, have an uncontested docket. Judges usually schedule these at a certain time of the day, and usually only on certain days of the week. The uncontested docket is used to "prove up" a divorce when there is a signed settlement agreement and no trial is needed.
Appellate Court Judges
Appellate court judges have the same duties as the lower tribunal court judges, but they must also review lower court decisions and may have to do additional research regarding the outcome of the lower court. The appellate court judge then decide whether to overturn the lower court's ruling by reversing and remanding, or it may agree with the lower court. Either way, the appellate court judge must then write her opinion, which is an appellate court order.
Supreme Court Judges
Again, supreme court judges have the same duties as other judges, but their cases are carefully selected. There are only certain cases that the supreme court (of the United States) will take, and they all have to do with federal statutes or constitutional issues. Supreme court judges do more research than any other type of judge. While their opinions are not necessarily longer, their cases are more difficult.
Every judge sits on the bench. Whether it be daily or weekly, depends on how many hearings and trials are scheduled, and the length of the hearings and trials. They all must do some legal research on issues brought before the court, particularly if the research the attorneys bring is not sufficient enough for the judge to make his decision. They all write opinions or orders on the cases.
Cayden Conor has been writing since 1996. She has been published on several websites and in the winter 1996 issue of "QECE." Conor specializes in home and garden, dogs, legal, automotive and business subjects, with years of hands-on experience in these areas. She has an Associate of Science (paralegal) from Manchester Community College and studied computer science, criminology and education at University of Tampa.