How to Write a Personal Reference Letter to a Judge for Someone on Trial

By Jennifer VanBaren - Updated March 27, 2017
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A judge may ask a person on trial to obtain a reference letter from a friend or family member. People write these letters, also called character reference letters, to vouch for a person. The letter contains character traits and qualities about the person on trial. The judge reviews the letters and considers the information when determining a decision for the case. If you are asked to write a reference letter for someone, be sure that you know the person well and offer only honest information.

Address the Letter

If this letter is going directly to the judge, find out his or her name and address it directly, writing “Dear” followed by his or her name. Include your name and contact information at the top of the page as well as the date of the letter.

Introduce Yourself

Begin the reference letter by building your credibility with the judge. This is accomplished by introducing who you are, your skills and qualifications, and your major achievements. Include also your relationship to the person on trial and state how long you have known him or her. This letter may have a substantial amount of impact on the judge’s decision, and by building your credibility, the results of his or her decision may significantly benefit the defendant. Limit this information to one paragraph if possible.

Describe the Defendant

Using the next several paragraphs, describe things you know about the defendant. Include positive character traits and values and describe any achievements you know about this person. Explain how you know him or her, and list the person’s strengths and good qualities. If possible, include a story that demonstrates the character of this individual. A reference letter for the judge should be limited to one page or less, so make every word count.

Summarize Your Thoughts

In the final paragraph, write a summary that emphasizes positive points about the person that you want the judge to take into consideration the most when making his decision.

Close the Letter

End the letter by thanking the court for considering your comments. End the letter by writing “Sincerely” followed by your signature and printed name.

About the Author

Jennifer VanBaren started her professional online writing career in 2010. She taught college-level accounting, math and business classes for five years. Her writing highlights include publishing articles about music, business, gardening and home organization. She holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting and finance from St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Ind.

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