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Judges and Administrative Staff

Whereas most federal judges are appointed to their positions, the majority of state trial court judges are elected to their positions by the general populace. Appellate (especially supreme court) justices are often appointed by state governors or legislatures but may also be elected by voters.

What does vary greatly from state to state is whether judicial elections involve partisan politics. In some states, party politics play a direct role in judgeships; in other states, a judicial candidate’s party affiliation is treated as private data (such as religious affiliation) not disclosed in campaign profiles. States also vary greatly in the extent to which they permit judicial candidates to “advertise” their candidacy and/or raise campaign funds.

State courts employ a large number of support staff, who are usually public employees paid by taxpayer funds. Generally, a judge’s staff may include one or more private assistants, law clerks, court reporters, bailiffs and other court officers, and court clerks. The most important administrative office of the courthouse is that of the court clerk. This is the office that stamps and dates all lawsuits filed, serves process (or verifies the parties’ service of process), posts legal notices, subpoenas witnesses, summons and prepares juries, and sends sheriffs or other court officials out to serve writs of execution to collect on unpaid judgments.

Inside Judges and Administrative Staff