How to Become a Judge

judges-infographicsmaller-infographicBYU Law alum Judge Suchada Bazzelle ’94 did not have the intention of becoming a judge when she graduated from law school. After 13 years of practice, however, she was appointed to the Fourth District Juvenile Court in January 2007 by Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. Judge Bazzelle loves where her career has taken her and is passionate about her work.

For those interested in a judicial career, Judge Bazzelle explains the six to eight month process:

  1. Complete the 27-page application.
  2. Pass the background check.
  3. Get selected by the nominations committee for an interview. The committee consists of attorneys, judges, members of the public, and legislators. Three to five people are selected from the applicant pool.
  4. Interview with the governor’s staff and the governor.
  5. Meet with the Senate Confirmation Committee that consists of six to eight senators.
  6. Meet with the full senate for confirmation by majority vote. 

What does a judge do?

According to Judge Bazzelle, judges facilitate the courtroom team. “We all bring our unique services to the courtroom,” she said. “My job is definitely the best position.” 

Focusing on her experience in the juvenile court, Judge Bazzelle said the goal of the court is to provide “a safe and happy family for all.” Her job as a judge is to enforce this goal. “I can make the decisions that I think are best for the family and see them carried out,” she said. “I decide whether it’s safe for the child to go home or not.” She has the power to decide if the parental rights need to be terminated, if an adoption should take place, or guardianship by a relative needs to be established.


New York State Supreme Court building in Lower Manhattan showing the words "The True Administration of Justice" on its facade in New York, NY, USA.

What is it like to be a judge?

Judge Bazzelle said that her job does take an emotional toll on her well-being. Part of her job is to read petitions, and sometimes those petitions contain very disturbing facts. She said that to be able to function as a judge, she has learned to keep it intellectual and factual rather than emotional. She recognizes that facing these harsh realities helps others. “I am in a position to help others — that’s what helps me get through the day,” she said.

Despite the emotional toll that Judge Bazzelle’s job takes, it is also a job that she enjoys. “I love working in juvenile court because this is where the action is,” she said. “If you really want to make a difference, this is where you want to be.”

Utah went to a statewide juvenile court system in the ’90s, making the position of juvenile court judges equal to the level of trial court judges. According to Judge Bazzelle this contributed to Utah becoming one of the best juvenile court systems in the nation. In other states, the juvenile court judge is an entry level position.

Statue of justice

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