Role of the judge
The judge in an Irish courtroom usually sits on a raised platform at the top of the court and wears white collars and a black gown.
If there is no jury in a case, it is the judge who decides which party shall win and which party shall lose in a case. He or she listens to the evidence of both sides and to the submissions of the barristers (or solicitors). The judge may ask questions of any witness and of the barristers (or solicitors).
The judge may give the judgement in the case at the end of the trial or he or she may "reserve" the judgement. When a judgement is reserved, the judge will take time to consider the case and then at some later stage deliver the judgement.
If there is a jury in the case, it is the jury that decides the outcome of the case. The judge merely provides guidance to the jury and makes sure that the trial is run properly. The jury in a criminal trial has the very important function of deciding whether the person accused of the crime is guilty or not guilty.
In April 2006 new rules were signed into effect changing the way judges in Ireland are addressed in court. In the past, judges in Ireland were referred to as "My Lord", or "His Lordship". Now, they will be addressed as "Judge" or referred to as "The Court". The only exception to this is in the case of the Chief Justice and President of the High Courts, who are addressed by their titles.
Judges in Ireland are appointed by the President acting on the advice of the Government.
In most cases, the Government decides who to appoint as a judge after it has been advised by the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board. This Board identifies and informs the Government about suitable barristers and solicitors who have applied for the job. The Judicial Appointments Advisory Board was established by law under Section 13 of the Court and Court Officers Act 1995. Membership of the Judicial Appointments Board consist of the Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal, President of the High Court, President of the Circuit Court, President of the District Court, the Attorney General, a practicing barrister, solicitor and 3 Ministerial appointments.
Judges must have at least 10 years experience as a barrister or solicitor and usually they have many more years of experience before they are appointed.