• VLP

What's the Diff?

The difference between Judges and Court Commissioners with insight from Judge Rachelle Anderson.


In the courtroom, Judges and Court Commissioners look the same and are addressed the same (address both a judge and a commissioner as ‘Your Honor’ when you speak in court). They also share many of the same judicial powers. So what’s the difference?



Judge (Superior Court)

Judges are elected officials who administer law and work together to make changes to the laws.

  • Elected for a four year term (vacancies between elections are appointed by the Governor)

  • Must be a licensed attorney

  • Work by committee throughout the year to amend and update laws

  • Sit for jury trials

“We deal with the final product – final divorce trials, termination of parental rights, significant personal injury cases and major crimes.”



Court Commissioner

Court Commissioners are hired, and they ease the caseload of judges.

Under a judge’s supervision they can:

  • Hear probate matters

  • Hear uncontested divorces

  • Sign off on uncontested court matters

Court Commissioners must also be a licensed attorney.

“The Commissioners deal with the immediate, the urgent things that are done ex parte or on motions.”

© 2019 by VLP - Volunteer Lawyers Program