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Bailiff - Career Overview

Bailiffs are law enforcement officers who play an important role in the courtroom. Bailiffs are primarily responsible for maintaining order and security in the courtroom and assisting the judge in the orderly conduct of trial.

Bailiff Job Duties

Bailiffs work with a variety of court personnel, government workers and lawyers. Although their primary role is to maintain order and provide security, many of their day-to-day duties are administrative in nature. A bailiff’s job responsibilities may include some or all of the following tasks:

General Duties:

  • Serve eviction orders, civil lawsuits, garnishments and asset seizures;
  • Transport prisoners to and from the courtroom;
  • Copy and post daily case schedules;
  • Maintain courtroom supplies;
  • Prepare bond forms.

Pre-Trial Duties:

  • Perform metal and x-ray detection of individuals and materials before entering the courtroom;
  • Unlock/lock courtrooms and jury rooms and ensure that they are neat and orderly;
  • Polish and fill water pitchers for court and jury rooms;
  • Maintain supplies of paper, pencils, water and other materials for use during court;
  • Sign in all persons appearing for court and ensure each is on the docket.

Trial/Courtroom Duties:

  • Open court and inform judge that court is ready;
  • Take custody of jurors, assist jurors in finding seats and distribute jury questionnaires;
  • Call witnesses and administer oaths to witnesses and jurors;
  • Relay messages from jurors to court and/or families;
  • Advise court personnel and attorneys when verdicts are reached;
  • Escort defendants to and from the courtroom;
  • Collect evidence from juries;
  • Operate courtroom equipment;
  • Prevent smoking, noise or other distractions in the courtroom during trial;
  • Close court;
  • Take custody of defendants in the courtroom and transport them to the correctional facility.

Education/Experience

To become a bailiff, you should have a high school diploma or general education degree (GED). Supplemental training, either at a 2- or 4-year college, vocational school or police academy will improve your employment prospects for a bailiff position.

Coursework in a field like criminal justice, law enforcement or civil rights provides a good background for a career as a bailiff. Prior experience as a law enforcement officer and/or court-related experience is often desired. Certain courts may impose an age minimum – such as 21 years of age – on bailiff positions and may require a valid state driver’s license. Background investigations of bailiff candidates are often conducted prior to hire.

Skills

In order to assist in the smooth operation of the courtroom, bailiffs must be courteous and cooperative and knowledgeable in court procedure. Bailiffs must be able to read and write simple instructions, short correspondence and memos. Strong public relations and interpersonal skills are necessary to effectively present information in one-on-one and small group settings to judges, juries, lawyers and the public. Basic mathematical skills, strong attention to detail and the ability to work well as a team are also important. Bailiffs may also be required to complete CPR and first aid training.

Employment Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, job opportunities for bailiffs are expected to be favorable. The need to replace bailiffs who transfer to other occupations, retire, or leave the labor force, coupled with rising employment demand, will generate job openings.

Bailiff Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, the median annual salary for bailiffs was $37,820 in May, 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $26,730 and $51,470. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18,750, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $61,500. Median annual wages for bailiffs were $32,690 in local government.

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