What is a Bench Trial?

The judiciary is often referred to as the “bench.” A bench trial is a trial where there is no jury and the judge serves two roles: (1) the person vested with the power to protect the procedural safeguards of the trial as to the rules of evidence and conduct of the parties and (2) the body who hears the evidence and makes a ruling based on the law after considering all the evidence.

In a Georgia workers’ compensation case, the “evidentiary hearings” are bench trials where the administrative law judge serves as the judge and trier of fact. These judges have the power to grant or deny benefits to the injured employee. These judges are generally appointed by the Governor of Georgia and they serve at his or her pleasure.