Career outlook for judge or sheriff
UK Salary Ranges
Currently employed in Scotland
What's it like?
You would oversee a court to ensure that people accused of breaking the law are treated fairly in legal cases. You’d make judgements and give sentences based on the evidence and the law.
There are different types of courts and judges to deal with different types of cases.
Justices of the peace (JPs) and stipendiary magistrates sit in Justice of the Peace Courts to deal with crimes like speeding, vandalism, and assault.
Sheriffs and sheriffs principal sit in Sheriff Courts. They deal with more serious criminal cases such as dangerous driving, serious assault and theft, and some civil cases. They also conduct Fatal Accident Inquiries into sudden or suspicious deaths.
In the High Court of Justiciary judges hear cases for the most serious crimes such as murder, and appeals from all the criminal courts.
Judges also sit in the Court of Session where they hear civil cases - such as disputes relating to family law, contract and commercial law - and appeals over civil law cases.
As the holder of a judicial office, you would make sure that the accused gets a fair trial. Your decisions would make a big impact on people’s lives. It would be your job to ensure that justice is done.
- Read background papers about a case
- Oversee the conduct of the case according to the law
- Keep order in the courtroom
- Make sure that cases run smoothly
- Explain legal issues to the jury, if there is one
- Make rulings on legal issues as the two sides present their evidence for and against the accused
If you are hearing a case alone or with other judges then you would consider the arguments and the evidence and make a judgement, explaining why you have reached that conclusion.
If there is a jury you would accept the jury’s decision. If the jury finds the accused guilty you will decide on a sentence within the limits of the law.
Cases can last anything from less than an hour to several months.
Judges sometimes also do other types of work, such as leading investigations into important public issues.
UK employment status
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- Verbal communication
- Written communication
- Attention to detail
- Taking initiative
- Making decisions
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