trial judge | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

A trial judge is a judge who presides over a trial court and is responsible for managing the proceedings and making legal rulings.

The trial judge is responsible for ensuring that the trial is conducted in a fair and impartial manner, that the rules of evidence and procedure are followed, and that the rights of the parties are protected. This includes making decisions about the admissibility of evidence, overseeing jury selection, and instructing the jury on the law.

The trial judge also has the authority to rule on pre-trial motions, such as motions to suppress evidence or dismiss the case and to impose sanctions on parties or attorneys who violate the rules of the court.

In some cases, the trial judge may also act as a fact-finder, particularly in cases where there is no jury. In these cases, the judge will hear testimony, review evidence, and make a determination about the facts of the case.

The role of the trial judge is critical to the functioning of the criminal justice system, as they are responsible for ensuring that trials are conducted fairly and that justice is served. Judges must be impartial and unbiased and must apply the law in an even-handed manner.

Overall, the trial judge plays a key role in the administration of justice and must balance the interests of the parties with the need to uphold the integrity of the court and the legal system as a whole.


American Bar Association (2018). What does a judge do?

Legal Information Institute (n.d.). Trial judge.

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Last Modified: 03/14/2023


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