Bailiffs provide courtroom security. They monitor the court for hidden weapons, bombs, or other security threats. Bailiffs frisk people to make sure they are not carrying any weapons and if a weapon is discovered, bailiffs confiscate the weapon. Also, bailiffs are responsible to check the courtroom and ensure it is clean and orderly.
Bailiffs introduce the judge to the court when he or she enters it. During trials, bailiffs maintain order. When a judge is addressing juries, bailiffs prevent anyone from entering the courtroom. Bailiffs instruct people in attendance about the courtroom policies and enforce the rules if necessary. For example, a bailiff could instruct the jury not to smoke or talk when the court is in session. Bailiffs remove people violating the rules and restrain, if required, hostile people who disagree with court rulings. Bailiffs can contact outside help if they need assistance such as the sheriff or medical professionals.
Sometimes trials last more than one day. When this occurs, sometimes judges will prevent jurors from returning home until the trial is over, requiring them to stay at hotels. Bailiffs secure the hotels and accompany jurors to restaurants, to prevent jurors from discussing the trial with other people. Bailiffs also escort prisoners into and out of the courtroom, physically handle evidence, swear in witnesses, and make sure judges have the appropriate case files.
Bailiffs Job Duties
Bailiffs work with interact with a large variety of judicial and court personnel, government workers and attorneys. Although the primary role of a Bailiff is to maintain order and provide security in the courtroom, surprisingly many of their day-to-day job duties are administrative in nature.
A bailiff's ongoing job responsibilities may include some or all of the following:
Bailiff’s General Duties:
- Serve eviction orders, garnishments, civil lawsuits notices, and asset seizure notices;
- Transport prisoners to the courtroom and from the courtroom;
- Ensure courtroom supplies are always stocked;
- Create and post daily case schedules;
- Prepare bond forms.
Bailiff’s Pre-Trial Duties:
- Perform x-ray and metal detection of individuals and materials prior to entering the courtroom;
- Unlock/lock courtrooms and jury rooms and ensure that courtrooms and jury rooms are neat and orderly;
- Fill water pitchers for court and jury rooms;
- Maintain supplies of paper, pencils and other relevant materials for use during court;
- Sign in all individuals appearing for court and ensure each is listed on the docket.
Bailiff’s Trial/Courtroom Duties:
- Open court and inform the judge when court is ready;
- Take custody of the jurors, assist jurors in finding seats and distribute jury questionnaires to jurors;
- Call witnesses and administer oaths to jurors and witnesses;
- Communicate messages from jurors to court and/or families;
- Inform court personnel and prosecution and defense attorneys when verdicts are reached by jurors;
- Collect evidence from juries;
- Escort defendants to and from the courtroom;
- Operate all courtroom equipment used during the trial;
- Prevent any distractions in the courtroom during trial procedings;
- Close court when the trial is over or out of session;
- Take custody of defendants in the courtroom and transport them to jail (if convicted.)
Bailiff Required Education and Experience
To be a bailiff, you must possess a high school diploma or general education degree (GED). Earning a 2- or 4-year college degree, vocational school certification, or police academy diploma may also help to improve your ability to get into a bailiff position but will not guarantee you a job.
A degree or coursework in a field like law enforcement or criminal justice can provide a good foundation and background for pursuing a career as a bailiff. Prior experience as a law enforcement officer or experience in a courtroom-related job is also a plus in helping to prepare you to be a bailiff.
There are quite a few courts that impose an age minimum on bailiff positions (typically 21 years). Most courts also require that you have a valid state driver’s license as well as pass a background check prior to employment.
Bailiff Job Skills
In order to facilitate a working courtroom, bailiffs must be cooperative and courteous and knowledgeable in court procedure. Bailiffs must have basic reading and writing skills as they are often required to compose simple instructions, short correspondences, as well as courtroom memos. Strong communication, public relations, and interpersonal skills are required in order to effectively present information to judges, juries, lawyers and the public. Basic mathematical skills, attention to detail and the ability to work well in a team are also important attributes. Some courts require bailiffs to complete first aid and CPR training.
Employment Outlook for Bailiffs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016 Edition, employment opportunities for qualified bailiffs are predicted to decrease by -2% (about -400 jobs) between 2016-2026.
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