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The term ‘associate judge’ is used to refer to the member of a judicial panel who is neither a chief judge nor a presiding judge. In the United States, judicial panels are non-hierarchical. Therefore, with respect to cases, an associate judge has responsibilities similar to that of a chief judge. However, an associate judge ordinarily has fewer or different administrative responsibilities than the chief. An associate judge is also known as a puisne judge.
Associate judges are generally appointed for a term of four years. They are elected on a merit basis by the circuit judges.