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
—-#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