Typically referring to the judge when using this word, for example, a bench trial which means a trial before a judge and not a jury. The bench refers to the comfortable bench (or usually a chair) where the judge sits in court during a hearing or trial.
Law Dictionary – Alternative Legal Definition
A seat of judgment or tribunal for the administration of justice; the seat occupied by judges in courts; also the court itself, as the “King’s Bench,” or the aggregate of the judges composing a court, as in the phrase “before the full bench.” The collective body of the judges in a state or nation, as distinguished from the body of attorneys and advocates, who are called the “bar.” In English ecclesiastical law. The aggregate body of bishops. Bench warrant. Process issued by the court itself, or “from the bench,” for the attachment or arrest of a person; either in case of contempt, or where an indictment has been found, or to bring in a witness who does not obey the subpoena. So called to distinguish it from a warrant, issued by a justice of the peace, alderman, or commissioner. Benchers. In English law. Seniors in the inns of court, usually, but not necessarily, queen’s counsel, elected by co optation, and having the entire management of the property of their respective inns.