The job description of a bailiff varies, depending on the nation in which he or she works. Bailiffs are usually trained law enforcement officers but they may provide a range of services, including service of process, security for prisoner transport, courtroom security, debt collection, and other services, depending on where they are employed. This article focuses on the role of the bailiff in the criminal justice system of the United States.
Bailiffs are law enforcement officers who are responsible for maintaining order in courtrooms. The bailiff secures the court, makes sure that everyone in court complies with the rules of the court, and protects the judge and jury. Bailiffs can be found at the entrance of the court, confirming that everyone is authorized to enter, and checking for weapons. They may also be stationed near the accused and near the entrances and exits to the courtroom.
Bailiffs are responsible for announcing and enforcing court policies, in addition to announcing the judge. If the judge issues an order to remove someone from the court, the bailiff will enforce this order. Bailiffs can also issue warnings to people who are not complying with the rules of the court. These law enforcement officers continuously monitor trial proceedings for any signs of illegal activities or disregard of the rules of the court.
A bailiff has some special responsibilities in regard to the jury. In court, the bailiff prevents contact between jurors and members of the public to limit the possibility of interference with the jury. The bailiff also escorts the jury in and out of court. If jurors need to be sequestered, bailiffs provide security in the hotels where the jurors are housed and the restaurants where they eat. Bailiffs also remain alert to security threats which might involve the jury, especially in trials where juror intimidation is a concern.
To become a bailiff, it is usually necessary to obtain a degree in criminal justice or a related field and to graduate from a law enforcement academy. Bailiffs may be provided by a sheriff's or marshal's office, in which case bailiffs may rotate between court and other duties related to their jobs. This type of work requires a knowledge of courtroom procedure and rules in addition to skills required from law enforcement, such as keen observation skills, physical ability, and the ability to work with the often diverse members of the public.