How to Address a Court Commissioner

How to Address a Court Commissioner

In my practice in Utah and California, court commissioners are hired by the judges and are thus court employees serving by contract or at the pleasure of the judges, and they do not go through the political process of nomination by the governor or approval by a branch of the state legislature, so they don’t have all of the powers of judges – the judges delegate some powers and decision-making authority to them.

In court, the custom is to refer to commissioners as ‘Your Honor’ just as a judge. My question is whether a commissioner is properly referred to as ‘the Honorable’ in correspondence and court orders. Something tells me that since they’re a bit lower on the pecking order, they’re not.

I’d appreciate any insight you might have as an expert in the area.
—————–– J.J.D. in Salt Lake City

Dear J.J.D.:

—-#1) All judges – elected in a general election or appointed by the governor – are addressed in writing as ‘the Honorable (Full Name)’ and in conversation or salutation as ‘Judge Name’.

—-—-But you say this type of commissioner is hired by a judge … and are neither elected in a general election nor appointed by the governor and approved by the Senate.

—-—-If so, they would not be formally ‘the Honorable (Full Name)’.

—-#2) Regarding the practice of addressing an appointed commissioner while presiding in court as ‘Your Honor’. There are many circumstances where a person is addressed in a way appropriate for the role they are fulfilling. ‘Your Honor’ is an oral form of direct address used in conversation with a presiding official. Both a judge presiding in court and the current mayor in his own city are addressed as ‘Your Honor’. A second judge visiting a courtroom, or a former mayor, would not be addressed as ‘Your Honor’ since they are not the presiding official.

– Robert Hickey    How to Address a Court Commissioner

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"