When asked how he pleaded at the start of his murder trial, Oscar Pistorius told the judge, "Not guilty, my lady."
The paralympian wasn't being fresh with Judge Thokozile Masipa. "My lady" is the accepted way to address female judges in South Africa, while the male equivalent is "my lord."
Throughout the Pistorius trial, witnesses have addressed their testimony not to the prosecutor or defense attorney asking the questions, but instead to "my lady" on the bench, who will be the person responsible for pronouncing Pistorius guilty or innocent.
What do you call judges in other countries?
|England and Wales|
The English use the medieval sounding "My lord" and "my lady" for high court and court of appeals judges. Magistrates can be called "Your Worship or "Sir/Madam" and circuit court judges get the relatively ho-hum address of "Your honor."
In Italian you address a judge: "Signor presidente della corte" or "Mr. President of the Court." Amanda Knox knows this all too well.
Most judges in Spain are addressed as "su señoría," which translates to "your honor."
Male judges in Germany are formally addressed as Herr Vorsitzender and females judges are referred to as Frau Vorsitzende, which translates as Mister Chairman or Madam Chairwoman.
Pansa means judge in Korean. When addressing a judge in the courtroom, it is proper to use the gender neutral pansa-nim, which includes the honorific.
In Brazil, the judges can be called "juiz" or "juiza," the male and female versions of judge. If you want brownie points, may we recommend the extremely formal but also acceptable "vossa excelência," meaning "your excellency."
If you've had a traffic ticket or have watched enough television crime dramas, you know that "Your Honor," is the norm in the United States.