De Facto Judge Law and Legal Definition

De facto judge refers to a presiding officer, who functions under the color of authority, but whose authority is defective in technical form. A de facto judge has the reputation of being a judge although s/he is not a judge in the eye of law. Mere possession of the office is not sufficient to make one a de facto judge - possession plus color of title to the office is essential. The official acts of a de facto judge are valid.

A judge de facto differs from a mere usurper of the office and a judge de jure. An usurper of the office undertakes to act without any color of right, and a judge de jure is in all respects legally appointed and qualified to exercise the duties of the office.

“A de facto judge may be defined as one who occupies a judicial office under some color of right, who exercises the duties of the judicial office under color of authority pursuant to an appointment or election thereto, and for the time being performs those duties with public acquiescence, though having no right in fact, because the judge's actual authority suffers from some procedural defect”. [Farm Bureau Policyholders v. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., 330 Ark. 350, 352 (Ark. 1997)]