A Judge is a public official authorized to decide questions brought before a court of justice. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions.
Judges in the legal systemJudges are the head of the judiciary division, they are assumed to be objective and above being swayed by exogenous factors. In the common law countries judges are selected from within the lawyer fraternity and do not require any preparation apart from their experience as a lawyer to qualify as a judge. In countries where civil law is practiced judges may need to study at special schools for judges after being trained along with lawyers in a typical law school. This training enables them to enact the role of investigative magistrates.
The role of a judge in the common law system descended from British practice and civil law systems descendant from continental European judicial practice are very different. Details change from judicial system to judicial system. In many cases, the judicial systems have experienced convergent evolution, expressly or unconsciously adopting similar practices or performing in a method that minimizes the impact of formal differences between the archetypical roles of each system's judges.
Power of judgesIn common law countries, such as the United States, and those with roots in the Commonwealth of Nations, judges have a number of powers which are not known to exist, or are not recognized to exist, in civil law legal systems, which collectively make the judiciary a more powerful political force than in civil law countries.
One of these powers of every judge in the United States is the power to declare a law unconstitutional and invalid, at least as applied in a particular case (right down to the level of the magistrate). In contrast, most civil law countries limit this power to a special constitutional court and all other judges are need to follow the enacted laws, even if the judge personally believes those laws to be unconstitutional, in the absence of an order from the constitutional court.
In the same way, in the common law system, cases in which the government administration is at issue, known as public law cases. In compare, in civil law countries only indicated judges or quasi-judges (such as the Conseil d'État in France) can hear public law cases, and ordinary judges can hear only criminal cases and cases involving private parties.
Also, judges in a common law system are empowered to make law guided by past precedent, or to select to omit past precedent as no longer applicable, based on a concept known as "stare decisis" ("to stand by what has been decided"), in cases where no statute or prior case clearly mandates a particular result, and in cases where past precedents. Judges in civil law systems, in difference, are strictly prohibit from "making law" and, as a general rule, are not bound by or even encouraged to refer to precedents established in prior similar cases.
Civil law judges, also, have some powers not usually assumed by common law judges. Most significantly, a civil law judge regularly has the authority to examine the facts of a case independently of evidence provided by the parties to that case, in what is known as an "inquisitorial" role. In contrast, a common law judge is generally required to base a decision almost absolutely on the evidence provided by the parties to a case during the course of a trial, or a hearing, or in documents filed with the court.
Attire and TitleJudges of yore wore powdered wigs and long black robes; in most countries wigs for judges have mostly been either dispensed with or have been replaced by smaller versions. Although in most countries judges still continue to wear the robes in many American states it is not tying for a judge to wear them; instead, they preside over the court wearing normal street clothes. In China since 1984, judges have begun to wear military uniforms, apparently to have a more authoritarian impact.
In America and many other countries judges of the higher court are addressed as ‘Your Honor’ while the judges of the lower court are addressed as Mr./Ms. The judges of the supreme courts of several U.S. states and other countries are called "justices". However, the state of New York inverts the typical order, with the Supreme Court of the State of New York being the most significant trial court, and the Court of Appeals being the highest court; thus, New York trial judges are called "justices", while the judges on the Court of Appeals are "judges". New York judges who deal with guardianships, trusts and estates are known as "surrogates".
A retired judge is a "senior judge" in U.S. practice, who handles selected cases for a governmental entity while in retirement on a part-time basis.
In U.S. legal practice, Subordinate or inferior jurisdiction judges are sometimes called magistrates, although in the federal court of the United States, they are called "magistrate judges".
In England they are addressed as ‘Your Lordship/Ladyship’ and ‘Your Honor’ (for lower court). French Judges are addressed as Mr./Ms. President(Monsieur le président/Madame le président), in Germany as "Mr./Mrs. Chairman (Herr Vorsitzender/Frau Vorsitzende). Judges of various courts in different capacities are also addressed as ‘Chancellors’ and ‘Referees’.