A bailiff in the United States is a peace officer of the court providing security for judges, juries, plaintiffs and defendants. They can be a certain type of correctional officer, such as a deputy, marshal, or constable. Their duties can vary depending on what court they are in and even by state regulations.
The position of a bailiff is long-standing in history. It was a title of power and dignity, as a protector and minor court official. They had power in medieval England where they were the lord of the manor's protector. These "bailiffs of manors" were more than muscle, they were rent and fine collectors and had estate lands and buildings to oversee. Bailiffs back in those days were fine collectors, writ executors, and process servers as well as the court protection.
What does a Bailiff do?
First and foremost, a bailiff works to provide protection for the court, especially the judge. They will enforce all the policies of the court and will carry out orders of the judge. If a judge needs someone removed from the courtroom, it is their job to enforce that by seeing the person out, and even restraining them if necessary.
Bailiffs keep the public and the jurors from having contact, and will escort the jury whenever they are moving from place to place. They keep order throughout the proceedings, and help handle evidence that needs to be dealt with securely. They swear in witnesses, as well as keep up with the important files and paperwork that the judge may need. If there is a threat, the bailiff will search for guns and bombs that may be hidden in the courtroom. They are the first line of defence between everyone that is in a court proceeding and those meaning to do any harm.
Some of the main duties of a bailiff include:
Keeping court disruptions to a minimum, through removal or arrest
Guarding jurors that are sequestered in hotels overnight
Removing firearms or other harmful devices from the courtroom or from people in the courtroom
Providing security or medical emergency services
Keeping the judge supplied with case files and needed paperwork
Apprising the jurors, the courtroom watchers, and others inside the courtroom of announcements
Preventing jurors from contacting the public, escorting them as needed, and keeping them safe from harm
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A bailiff typically works inside the courthouse to provide security for all inside. While the courtroom is where a bailiff will spend the majority of his or her time, they may also be in the public sector at times, when escorting jurors or protecting them at their hotel during a sequester.