How Judges Become Judges

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A'nold
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How Judges Become Judges

Postby A'nold » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:24 pm

I've always wondered this. While I have researched this a bit, it seems like many judges are appointed by circumstance or luck. So, I would like to know how the following judges go about becoming judges:

State court judges that are elected- obviously they need to be elected, but how do they build up enough support through the years to afford to campaign and how do they become popular enough to get the needed votes?

State court appointed judges-

Federal district court judges-

Federal appeals court judges-

Obviously I know how SCOTUS justices are appointed, haha.

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AreJay711
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Re: How Judges Become Judges

Postby AreJay711 » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:26 pm

Marry into a political family; it is the easiest way.

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vanwinkle
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Re: How Judges Become Judges

Postby vanwinkle » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:32 pm

I am aware of multiple judges in the DC Court of Appeals who worked for the Public Defender Service (appeals division) and then got appointed. The discussions I had about that led me to two factors:

For appellate seats, appellate experience is often critical.

The most important factor is connections. It particularly matters regarding alumni, former employer, and political networks. (Politics is highly relevant because of who's doing the appointing.) Anything that increases your stature, either personally or on paper, with the appointer is what matters most.

That's all I got.

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kings84_wr
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Re: How Judges Become Judges

Postby kings84_wr » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:33 pm

Sort of anecdotal but I remember my Legal ethics prof saying that DA's have a much higher rate of becoming judges then other lawyers.

For Fed judges its a lot of political connection since they are appointed by teh president. My judge last summer knew about every significant political figure in CA and happened to be friends with a former Senator that got him appointed.

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A'nold
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Re: How Judges Become Judges

Postby A'nold » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:37 pm

vanwinkle wrote:I am aware of multiple judges in the DC Court of Appeals who worked for the Public Defender Service (appeals division) and then got appointed. The discussions I had about that led me to two factors:

For appellate seats, appellate experience is often critical.

The most important factor is connections. It particularly matters regarding alumni, former employer, and political networks. Politics is highly relevant because of who's doing the appointing. Anything that increases your stature, either personally or on paper, with the appointer is what matters most.

That's all I got.


Thanks Van.

I absolutely suck at the bolded. I am just fine in social settings but man do I hate trying to purposely create contacts. I know I am not alone there. Do you guys know how most people go about making contacts with powerful alumni?

As for the PD example above: That was what I was thinking would probably be the most frequent path to getting appointed. I'm sure working for the government in high profile situations would probably be most people's best bet.

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A'nold
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Re: How Judges Become Judges

Postby A'nold » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:38 pm

kings84_wr wrote:Sort of anecdotal but I remember my Legal ethics prof saying that DA's have a much higher rate of becoming judges then other lawyers.

For Fed judges its a lot of political connection since they are appointed by teh president. My judge last summer knew about every significant political figure in CA and happened to be friends with a former Senator that got him appointed.


Ah, good 'ole shmoozing. :(

CanadianWolf
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Re: How Judges Become Judges

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:39 pm

Typically DAs are elected officials as are state court judges in most instances. DAs have name recognition & get free publicity when running as a judicial candidate. Many judges get on the bench via political connections. Several states allow the governor to appoint replacements when a judge retires mid-term so that that person can run as an experienced incumbant. In real estate, it's location, location, location; in much of the judicial world, it's politics, politics, politics. (Although this is often quite subtle.)

P.S. Many state court judges were solo practitioners or were in small office sharing arrangements who raced to file as a judicial candidate because a sitting judge announces that he or she will not seek re-election.

CanadianWolf
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Re: How Judges Become Judges

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:44 pm

Typically DAs are elected officials as are state court judges in most instances. DAs have name recognition & get free publicity when running as a judicial candidate. Many judges get on the bench via political connections. Several states allow the governor to appoint replacements when a judge retires mid-term so that that person can run as an experienced incumbant. In real estate, it's location, location, location; in much of the judicial world, it's politics, politics, politics. (Although this is often quite subtle.)

P.S. Many state court judges were solo practitioners or were in small office sharing arrangements who raced to file as a judicial candidate because a sitting judge announced that he or she would not seek re-election. This is different, of course, then a mid-term appointment due to retirement.

An old saying among lawyers & law students suggested that the "A" law students became law professors, the "B" law students went to work for large law firms to make big bucks, & the "C" law students go on to become judges.

LjakW
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Re: How Judges Become Judges

Postby LjakW » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:03 pm

For federal judge, although they are appointed by the President, it's really a Senator that recommends you.

keg411
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Re: How Judges Become Judges

Postby keg411 » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:16 pm

With state trial courts it tends to vary by state. Judges in our state are appointed by the governor and then they come up for re-appointment after a period of time (I think it's 5 years, but I'm not sure). If they are re-appointed (which has traditionally happened even when the party in power changes; although that tradition may sadly be changing :( ), they are judges until the mandatory retirement age (and then they become senior judges).

It is all through connections since we do not elect judges in my state (which is a philosophy that I completely agree with). The schools and backgrounds are pretty much all over the place (everything from local schools to T14's and firm work to gov't work).

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Wholigan
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Re: How Judges Become Judges

Postby Wholigan » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:19 pm

http://www.phillymag.com/articles/the_j ... kers/page1

This is one of the most interesting articles I have ever read on the municipal judge topic. While it is specific to one city, I'm sure similar practices take place in other large and medium cities across the country. Bottom line is basically whether you can afford to be a judge or not. Apparently it costs about half a mil in Philly.
Last edited by Wholigan on Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: How Judges Become Judges

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:20 pm

LjakW wrote:For federal judge, although they are appointed by the President, it's really a Senator that recommends you.


This is absolutely credited, as is van's statement abut connections.

I externed for a C.D. Cal. judge who is basically the most well-connected person I have ever met. Graduated from the top of their ls class, super outgoing and charismatic, worked in private practice for a long time and built up an impeccable reputation in the legal community, served on pro bono boards, very active in local bar ass'ns, became close personal friends with a lot of local/state politicians, judges, etc.




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