I remember another attorney telling me a number of years ago that he liked sitting in as a temporary judge because he could control people's lives. I'm glad he never became a real judge. Most judges that I have met are not power hungry and just try to do a good job. There are no special qualifications to be a judge. You don't have to take special classes or tests or psychological evaluations. In our state all judges are either elected or appointed. County judges have to run for office unless they are temporarily appointed to fill the remaining term of a judge who cannot continue to serve. That means they generally align themselves with political parties. Once judges are elected most judges do not decide cases based upon party affiliation and they can generally serve as long as they like because experienced judges almost always win reelection regardless of party affiliation.
Judges at the state and federal level are appointed to the bench. These appointments are largely political in nature since the appointments are made by the governor or president. As is true with county judges a sitting judge usually doesn't lose his seat. As is also true with county judges politics are not a significant factor in judges' decisions. Many judges have confounded the political parties that appointed them. We hear a lot about the political battles fought when a U.S. Supreme Court judge is appointed but even at that level the judge is not beholden to a party. On really hot topics like abortion it may be easier to distinguish liberal from conservative judges because the Constitution doesn't say anything about abortions. However, most decisions even at that level are not politically influenced. It is important to remember that judges aren't supposed to make law. They are supposed to apply existing law to the set of facts before them.
Having said all of that there are good judges and not so good judges, as is true with most if not all segments of society. In my humble opinion a good judge is one who listens to people and treats them with dignity and respect. A good judge moves cases along and requires attorneys to do their jobs. A good judge reaches decisions quickly once the case has been presented. We had a judge in our county who always announced his decision as soon as the trial was over. When you prepared your case you could tell your client this was going to happen and it did like clockwork. Most judges don't do this but I believe they should. Perhaps there is some value in sleeping on it, but it certainly isn't a good idea to allow cases to pile up in a to do box because new obligations will cast shadows over the old. I also think that a lot of judges delay their decisions because they don't want to render their decision with everyone watching. As they say, if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen.
Judges should be treated with respect because of their position in the legal system. Otherwise, however, if you end up in front of a judge treat him or her as you would a friend or family member. If you have to testify look the judge in the eye and be yourself. You don't want to dress in a suit or tie if you normally don't wear one but you also don't want to wear sandals and a baseball hat. You want to be presentable in the way you look and the way you act. Even attorneys don't like to argue with judges so if you do represent yourself try to avoid argument if at all possible. On the other hand there is no reason to be intimidated by judges. You don't have to be a genius,sage or saint to be a judge and they eat, sleep and go to the bathroom just like the rest of us. At least I think they do.