A judge spoke of the need to stamp out prejudice and the importance of fairness to all.
Judge Christopher Prince, right, made the remarks when he accepted the post of Honorary Judicial Recorder of Durham.
"I believe the days of the white middle-class judge who is out of touch are long gone," Judge Prince told a meeting of the Durham Charter Trust, which was held to appoint him.
"I hope I am pretty much in touch with real life.
"It is challenging to sit in judgment on your fellow man, but if you do not find the job challenging, then you should not be doing it."
The judge said he hoped to strengthen the links between the court, Durham City, and the wider county.
He urged all those present at the meeting in Durham Town Hall to visit Durham Crown Court to see the criminal justice system in action.
As senior judge at Durham Crown Court, Judge Prince, 53, is the second judge to hold the title of judicial recorder, which was introduced in 2005.
Judge Prince is from London, coming to the North East in 1976 to study at Newcastle University.
He was a barrister in Newcastle for 23 years, dealing mainly with criminal work, before he was made a judge in 2006.
Judge Prince is married, has three children, and lives in the Tyne Valley.