In a court of law, some issues are within the province of the jury, and some are to be determined by the judge. Generally speaking, the jury decides issues of fact, and judges decide issues of law. Sometimes, however, a judge acts as the trier-of-fact in the absence of a jury (which is called a “bench trial”). A judge may also act as a “13th juror” with the authority to decide that “reasonable jurors would have reached a contrary result” and take appropriate action to correct the error.
Additionally, when a party seeks something called “summary judgment,” the trial court judge must carefully consider the evidence in deciding whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Notably, the judge does not decide which party is in the right with respect to disputed issues but instead only decides whether there is a factual issue that must be resolved by the jury. If the facts are undisputed, the judge decides whether, based upon the applicable law, the moving party is entitled to a judgment ending the case (or at least the particular claim upon which the party seeks summary judgment).