A circuit judge, in general, conducts trials, renders decisions, and must constantly research and keep up with changes in the law. A judge must hear disputes and decide who should win a case in order to conduct trials. A judge must be familiar with the rules of evidence in order to make decisions during a trial. He or she must also be familiar with the laws that govern a particular subject. A judge must also be able to write down his or her decisions.
In the past, state and federal court trial judges, for example, had to travel to multiple locations in a specific geographic region on a regular basis to hear cases. The term circuit judge came about because people referred to the various locations within the region as a circuit. A circuit judge is more likely to be assigned to a single courthouse nowadays.
A circuit judge must be familiar with the rules of procedure that govern how cases move through the court in order to perform judicial duties. The goal of these rules is to ensure that the trial process is fair. When lawyers file conflicting motions or disagree on the meaning or interpretation of the rules, a judge must know how to apply these rules. Furthermore, higher courts frequently make decisions about how to apply a rule, which can influence how a circuit court judge applies a rule. This necessitates a judge’s constant vigilance over any decisions that govern how certain decisions must be made.
A circuit judge must also be familiar with the rules of evidence. These rules govern what types of evidence a judge may admit into court, such as testimony, documents, and property. The rules may, on the other hand, require a judge to dismiss certain evidence. The rules of evidence are constantly evolving as well.
A circuit judge can conduct trials knowing the rules of procedure and the rules of evidence. A circuit judge must preside over a trial in a fair and impartial manner, which means the judge cannot be biased in favor of or against one party. The various rules that govern a trial assist a judge in remaining impartial.
A circuit judge must also write certain types of legal documents, such as judgments and orders. A judgment contains the court’s factual findings as well as the reasoning that led to the court’s decision in a specific case. An order may also include factual findings; however, it is usually more concise than a judgment. These documents are formatted a judge in accordance with the rules of the jurisdiction.