In my case the other party is the state. The judge also receives local judicial benefits from the state which is a party appearing before him. Like in my case it's my name verse state of Washington. And state of Washington has paid my judge $795,000. And I feel like that could be a little conflict of interest since the judge is supposed to be impartial. The code of judicial ethics in Washington state also says that both parties must be aware of any economic interest the judge has and I was never notified.

  • 1
    The question in your title sounds pretty interesting, but I'm guessing you'll get some close votes based on the "fairness" part.
    – Pat W.
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 15:11
  • 1
    In what manner was the Judge paid? Could you explain?
    – Viktor
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 13:54
  • Assuming you are talking about the judge's regular salary, it's an interesting theoretical question of ethics, but in practice I cannot imagine that it has any practical significance. I would have to guess that any appeal filed on these grounds would be laughed out of court. Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 5:22
  • So what are your thoughts on victimless crimes?
    – user5249
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 4:16

6 Answers 6


Salaries are public: http://www.salaries.wa.gov/salary.htm

Judges are understood to be following the rules outlined here

That includes:

The duties of judicial office, as prescribed by law, shall take precedence over all of a judge's personal and extrajudicial activities.

A judge shall uphold and apply the law, and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.

, among many other rules that prohibit bias, partiality, prejudice, and influences external to the law.

The judge is paid by the state to do that job, not to decide any individual case in a particular way.

Even if you don't believe justices can be truely impartial, it's the legislature that sets the salaries, and the people that vote in judicial elections to keep or remove judges.

  • You call it salaries but some might see that as bribery. When I go to court for a victimless crime the state picks it up. And the public defender tells me to take the deal it's a good offer even though I told him I was innocent.
    – user5249
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 4:14
  • 1
    The state is in charge of all prosecutions, not just prosecutions for victimless crimes. Your plea decisions are your own. No court or statute has ever deemed judge salaries to be bribery.
    – user3851
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 4:56

Wait a minute, what are you actually referring to? Do you mean “salaries” in the word “Money”? The one who do the prosecution is the Department of Justice, while the judge is from the Judiciary. So, judge receives salaries from the Judiciary but not the Department of Justice.

We maintain the judge is making verdicts fairly by making judges a Permanent position, means that unless the judge has committed a crime or other offences, he can not be fired. So, simply by the state paying him salaries will not affect the fairness of the verdict. Also, when doing verdicts, the judge need to give reasons when deciding facts and laws, if you find them misleading, you can appeal. I don't see such act of paying salaries affects the fairness. :)

Recommendation: make your question more concise to make sure we know what you are asking.

  • In many states, judges are selected by election and can be voted out.
    – user3851
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 14:36
  • Elected by the other judges? Or by whom? I am sorry that I am not from US...... Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 14:36
  • By the people in the state. A popular election, sometimes even with judges listing their party affiliations.
    – user3851
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 14:50

(US Centric answer)

You are absolutely right about there being the potential for a conflict of interest. This is why trials are public, defendants are guaranteed counsel / representation, and the defendant has a right to a trial by a jury of his peers. As others have pointed out, there are appeals that further reduce the likelihood of falling through the cracks.


In most modern democratic countries, the government is divided into three independent branches: the legislature, the executive and the judiciary and each is independent of the other.

When someone is prosecuted for a crime (or in a civil suit by the government) it is the executive branch (usually through the office of the Attorney General) that acts as prosecutor and the judicial branch that supplies the judge. Both the prosecutor and the judge are paid by the taxpayer but they are not connected to each other otherwise.

The important point here is that the judge is paid his salary no matter who wins the case. If you win: he gets paid. If the state wins: he gets paid. Since his remuneration is the same there is no conflict of interest, per se.

  • Is the first sentence really true in a parliamentary system? (This doesn't affect the rest of your answer, though.) Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 8:48
  • 1
    @SteveMelnikoff sure, how this is done varies: in some they are fully independent (US) in others the executive is drawn from the legislature (Westminster system)
    – Dale M
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 9:44
  • Even though the "organization charts" show the prosecutors working for the executive branch, I wouldn't say the prosecutors are independent of the judiciary: All prosecutors are "officers of the court," and maintain constant working relationships with the judges (who themselves are often former prosecutors).
    – feetwet
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 16:40
  • @feetwet the same can be said of defence council
    – Dale M
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 20:29
  • But Justice must satisfy the appearance of Justice. Well if I could give the Judge a bigger salary maybe he would side with me will never know but that definitely doesn't give the appearance of Justice.
    – user5249
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 4:06

There have been plenty of cases where I judge has said "Sorry, guys; I own ten shares of company XYZ so I can't hear a case where XYZ is involved". Even when in practice it's obvious that the share price of XYZ isn't going to move if the judge decides that XYZ has to repair your fridge under warranty or not.

But a judge gets a salary, and that salary is paid no matter how he or she decides in a case where the state paying the salary is one of the parties. So the judge has no financial interest in the outcome of the case.


You have hit upon a MAJOR problem in justice systems.

In many countries judges are professional bureaucrats employed by the state and whose advancement is controlled by the state.

The U.S. does not have such a system. However, in the federal system, many judges advance through the ranks of the Justice department before becoming judges. Although in theory they are independent, the judiciary is protective of "Mama Government" to a degree that most of the public is not aware of nor would approve of.

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