Chief Judge Law and Legal Definition

Chief Judges are judges who preside over the sessions and deliberations of a court, while also overseeing the administration of the court.

In order to qualify for the office of Chief Judge of a circuit, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as Chief Judge. A vacancy in the office of Chief Judge is filled by the youngest circuit judge in regular active service who is sixty-five years of age or over and who has served as circuit judge for one year or more or by a judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The Chief Judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a Chief Judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion. If the chief judge desires to be relieved of his/her duties as chief judge while retaining his/her active status as circuit judge, s/he may so certify to the Chief Justice of the United States. [28 USCS § 45]