A visiting judge is a judge appointed to hear a case as a member of a court to which he or she does not ordinarily belong. In United States federal courts
, this is referred to as an assignment "by designation" of the Chief Justice of the United States (for inter-circuit
assignments) or the Circuit Chief Judge
(for intra-circuit assignments), and is authorized by (for active district judges) or (for retired justices and judges).
In many United States Courts of Appeals
it is not uncommon for a district judge
to sit on a panel as a visiting judge; less frequently it is a judge from another circuit (in active service or, more commonly, in senior status
). Retired Supreme Court justices have done the same, including Justices Sandra Day O'Connor
and David Souter
, and very unusually, sitting Justices (in 1984, for example, Justice William Rehnquist
served as a visiting judge for a jury trial
in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
). This is sometimes done to ease caseload pressures, and sometimes (as in Rehnquist's case) for experience.
[ Discussing Frank H. Easterbrook on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.]
In other cases, notably those of some judges in senior status, the individual may sit in a different court for personal reasons (such as sitting in areas popular with retirees such as Florida or in a person's hometown).