A judge or justice is an appointed or elected official who presides over a court. The powers, functions, and training of judges varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In the United States, judges are not trained separately from lawyers and are generally appointed or elected from among practicing attorneys. In most civil law jurisdictions judges go to special schools to be trained after graduating with a legal degree from a university; after such training they become investigative judges, see inquisitorial system. In common law countries, judges usually operate according to the adversarial system of justice under the applicable rules of civil procedure.

Many judges from all over the world continue to wear wigs; a tradition imported from the British

In the common law system, when there is a jury trial, the judge generally decides issues of law, i.e. which law applies and what the law requires, while the jury decides facts, i.e who did what, who is guilty, what is the amount of damages. Historically in Europe in the middle ages, juries often stated the law by consensus or majority and the judge applied it to the facts as he saw them. This practice generally no longer exists. Notably, while common law jurisdictions retain the jury system, civil law has abandoned the jury in favor of a judge-based system.

Being a judge is usually a prestigious position in society, and as a result a variety of solemn traditions have become associated with the occupation. In most nations of the world judges wear long robes, usually black or red, and sit on an elevated platform during trials. The standard judges uniform originated with the Roman toga.

In some countries, notably Britain, judges also wear long wigs and use special gavels to instill order in the courtroom.

In the People's Republic of China, judges wore regular street clothes until 1984, when they began to wear military style uniforms, which were intended to demonstrate authority. These uniforms were replaced in 2000 by black robes similar to those in the rest of the world.

The judges of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the judges of the supreme courts of several U. S. states and other countries are called "justices." In the United Kingdom, a comparable rank is held by the House of Lords; its judges are not called judges, but Law Lords, and sit in the House of Lords as peers. The justices of the supreme courts usually hold higher offices than the justice of the peace, a judge who holds police court in some jurisdictions and who typically tries small claims and misdemeanors. However, the state of New York inverts the usual order, with the Supreme Court of the State of New York being the trial court, and the Court of Appeals being the highest court.

Famous and Infamous Judges

Famous Fictional Judges

This list includes both judges from the world of fiction, as well as people who use the prefix 'Judge' but who are not actually judges.

See also court dress, list of jurists, barrister, solicitor, attorney