trial judge

Trial judge is the judge of a trial court. Cases must be heard by the trial judge before reaching appellate courts. The trial judge will decide motions to dismiss, rule on whether evidence is admissible or not, empanel the jury, preside over the trial, and decide questions of law. At a bench trial, the trial judge will even decide questions of fact, delivering summary judgment in a civil case or a verdict in a criminal case. Litigants generally have a right to appeal decisions of the trial judge, however. 

At the federal level, the trial judge is referred to as the district court judge. While all states have a trial level, the terminology differs among states. In New York, for example, the trial court judge is referred to as the Supreme Court Justices. 

[Last updated in October of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]