Indeed you are correct.
As of 1998, the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice
Statistics contained a table summarizing the necessary qualifications
for each type of court within a particular state. See:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/sco98.pdf Table 8 is on page 60
of this 374 page table.
If I may summarize those states and courts where it is reported a law
degree is not a REQUIREMENT to sit on the bench:
AZ JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
AR COUNTY COURT
COURT OF COMMON PLEAS
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
CO COUNTY COURT
DE JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
GA MAGISTRATES COURT
IN CITY COURT AND TOWN COURT
LA JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
ME SUPERIOR COURT
MD ORPHANS COURT
MS JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
MT JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
NM MUNICIPAL COURT
NY TOWN COURT AND VILLAGE COURT
OH MAYORS COURT
OK SPECIAL DISTRICT COURTS
MUNICIPAL CRIMINAL COURTS
OR COUNTY COURT
PA DISTRICT JUSTICE
PITTSBURGH CITY MAGISTRATE COURT
SC MAGISTRATES COURT
TX CONSTITUTIONAL COUNTY COURTS
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
UT JUSTICE COURT
WI SOME MUNICIPAL COURTS
WY JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
Please note, however, that many of these courts have a very limited
jurisdiction, particularly the Justice of the Peace (sometimes called
municipal) courts. (A Justice of the Peace is a local judicial
officer having jurisdiction over minor criminal offenses and minor
civil disputes, and authority to perform routine civil functions (such
as administering oaths and performing marriage ceremonies. Black's
Law Dictionary, 7th ed., p. 869).
In addition, as to becoming a federal judge, our Constitution sets
forth no specific requirements. However, members of Congress, who
typically recommend potential nominees, and the Department of Justice,
which reviews nominees' qualifications, have developed their own
informal criteria. http://www.uscourts.gov/faq.html I do not believe,
and have found no evidence to support, that there are ANY federal
judges who did not graduate law school and become a member of a bar.
Remember, though, that Abraham Lincoln did not attend law school, and
Clarence Darrow only attended one year of law school and left.
Many states seem to be implementing a rule, in some cases by state
constitutional amendment, whereby not only must one have a law degree,
but that the candidate for judicial office have been a member of the
bar for at least five years.
I hope this answers your question.
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