When Is a Judge Referred to as "Your Honor"?

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  • Written By: Renee Booker
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2019
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A judge, in any jurisdiction, is considered to be a person of honor. As such, the position of judge is considered to be an honorable position and should be treated accordingly with respect and deference. Although judges may be addressed with other titles, the proper salutation for a judge is "your honor" in all cases, and by all people involved in the court system.

In most courtrooms, a judge is introduced by the bailiff or another member of the court staff before he or she enters the room. It is customary to introduce the judge by saying something along the lines of "...the honorable Judge Smith presiding." The term "your honor" is a shortened way to address "the honorable Judge Smith" from that point on in the proceedings.

Throughout a court proceeding, many participants in the case may have the opportunity to address the judge and all should refer to him or her as "your honor." When an attorney speaks directly to the judge, he or she always addresses the judge as "your honor." In many court proceedings, the parties to the case may also have reason to address the judge directly and should do so by using "your honor." Witnesses that testify in a court will also address the judge by calling him or her "your honor."


Although a participant or observer in a courtroom may hear people address a judge by using "sir," "madam," or other salutations, the correct and respectful manner in which to address a judge remains "your honor." In addition, no one in a courtroom should address a judge without asking permission or without being spoken to by the judge first. While some courtrooms are more informal in both decorum and procedure, this does not lessen the stature of a judge or the honor bestowed upon him or her by virtue of the title.


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Do judges make law?

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