The presiding Judge is the particular Judge assigned to hear the case. In most circuits cases are randomly assigned to a Judge upon the initial filing of the lawsuit. With some exceptions, the Judge presiding over a trial is usually the same Judge that has presided over pretrial conferences, motions and other hearings leading up to the trial.
The role of the Judge during the pendency of a case is to resolve any issues that are matters of law. Some examples include whether a piece of evidence or the testimony of a witness may be admissible. Another example is whether, as a matter of law, a particular lawsuit raises issues that can be appropriately decided in a court of law.
The role of the Judge differs from the role of the jury. Once a case goes to trial, the role of the jury is to be the fact finder. In trial, once the jury has been presented all of the evidence, it is the Judge’s role to instruct the jury on the law that must be applied to the facts in reaching a verdict. Reaching a verdict is exclusively the jury’s job. The Judge does not and cannot participate in that decision in any way.
Likewise, the Judge does not indicate a preference for one verdict over another. In a nutshell, the Judge makes sure that both parties get their day in court and ensures that the case is efficiently and accurately presented to the jury.