A Look at the Court Bailiff
The criminal justice field is one that offers very exciting career opportunities. With the new achievements in forensic technology as well as the ever evolving international and domestic criminal justice landscape, you are almost guaranteed that the criminal justice professions will be anything but boring. The list of criminal justice professions is ever expanding and it welcomes individuals with a diverse educational as well as professional backgrounds. One such career in the criminal justice system would be a court Bailiff.
A court Bailiff is an officer of a court that provides security services within the courtroom. According to Law (2015), a bailiff is an officer of the court who is concerned with the service of a court’s process, and the enforcement of the court’s orders. They are mandated with the monitoring of courts for any security threats such as weapons and explosives. They frisk the people who attend court sessions to make sure that they don’t carry anything that is forbidden in a court room.
When the judge enters the courtroom, it is the responsibility of the bailiffs to introduce them. In addition, they are mandated to maintain order during the court proceedings. When judges are speaking to juries, bailiffs are supposed to prevent any other individuals from entering the courtroom. When court proceedings are on, bailiffs instruct those who are in attendance on the court procedures and enforcing them if necessary. For example, court bailiffs may instruct juries not to smoke, speak, or eat when court is on session. When necessary, they also kick out individuals who break the rules and they restrain angry people who might disagree with judge’s rulings.
When Trials are extended beyond one day as it happens occasionally, the jurors are mostly required by the judges to remain sequestered in hotels. In such cases, it is the bailiff’s responsibility to protect the jurors that are staying in the hotels, as well as accompanying them to restaurants to make sure they do not reveal the trial details with others. Additionally, bailiffs also escort incarcerated people in and out of the courtroom, handle evidence, administer oaths to witnesses, and make sure that judges have access to the files of the particular case.
Bailiffs also work and associate closely with the court employees, various legal professionals, and government employees. Although bailiffs are responsible primarily for providing the courtroom with security, some of them are assigned other administrative duties, such as serving asset seizure and civil lawsuit notices, garnishments, and any other court order, making sure that courtrooms remain adequately supplied with whatever that might be needed, and developing and posting case schedules. Other duties within the scope of a bailiff’s job description may include opening the courtrooms and alerting the judge when it is ready, help jurors sit where they are supposed to sit, and handing them the questionnaires, notifying witnesses when they are supposed to enter the stand, administer oaths, Notifying the attorneys and court officials when juries have come up with verdicts, relaying messages to families and court officials from jurors, collecting evidence from the jury members, operating technology within the courtroom, among other duties.
Although the exact qualifications for court bailiffs vary based on the country and state and county, one minimum qualifications that is consistent across board is perfect physical conditions for all bailiffs, and they should have the basic knowledge of law enforcement. The bailiff positions in most cases, require that candidates be at least 21 years of age. These are two of the basic requirements, which in most cases are applicable in almost every state and county in the USA.
Also, as a basic requirement, one needs to have very strong skills in conflict management, which will be handy in the enforcement of order in the courtrooms. Communication and Organization skills are important as well for one to become a court bailiff, and in some states you must hold a GED or be a high school graduate. Some government employers may prefer bailiffs to possess a bachelor’s degree in criminology, criminal justice, public safety, and any other related field. Completing higher education in criminal justice, civil rights, and law enforcement could be a beginning to anyone aspiring to be a court bailiff.
Additional special training such as police training, trade school certification, and college education may not be a requirement in most states like Texas (Rubenser & Priddy, 2011), but it enhances someone’s chances of landing a bailiff job. Since court bailiffs are responsible for the safety of the courtroom, first aid training and any other safety measures training may be helpful in the execution of such duties. Other court systems may require court bailiffs to be trained on handling firearms, and be able to use chemical sprays e.g. pepper spray comfortably. Paying attention to detail, as well as having the ability to work in teams makes successful court bailiffs. Previous experience in law enforcement and courtroom related experience will as well enhance the chances of landing a job as a court bailiff. Such experiences may include working as a court clerk, a security officer, or having worked in the police force. Before being taken in as a bailiff, background checks are mostly conducted on candidates who are being considered for employment
Interaction with Other Criminal Justice Professions
Court bailiffs play a very crucial role in the criminal justice system. They handle security of the court as well as a host of many other activities in the court, but they do this in conjunction with other professionals of the judicial system. Most of their duties and responsibilities are attached to other court professionals’ duties, and thus the nature of being a court bailiff requires them to work hand in hand with other court professions, which forms a basis of their daily interactions. All of the court professions interact on a continuing basis in the workplace, develop a culture and norms of doing things, share the goals and ultimately establish a network that facilitates cooperation to administer justice (Cole, Smith & DeJong, 2015).
The first very important professional that a bailiff interacts with on a regular basis is the judge. Somehow, bailiffs works as the assistants to the judge, in some areas of their roles and responsibilities. They are the ones who alert the judges when the court is settled and sessions are ready to start, and present to them the evidence produced in court by either the prosecuting attorney or the defense attorney. Bailiffs also open the court by making an announcement on the judges’ arrival, as well as closing the court by making an announcement on the judges’ departure. This means that the bailiff and the judge must have some interaction and a solid one will be very important in the administration of justice, because the bailiff has to prepare the courtroom for the judge
The other profession that the bailiff interacts with on a regular basis is the juror. Jurors interact with the bailiffs as much as they do with the judges, and their interaction may go beyond the court room. As part of the bailiff’s responsibilities, the bailiff is tasked with escorting the jurors to the courtroom, and showing them where to sit. This ensures some order is maintained in the courtroom as required. Beyond the courtroom, the jurors are supposed to be escorted in hotels they live and to other public areas, mostly if they have a pending verdict. This interaction is very necessary in the administration of justice to an accused person, because it is meant to make sure that the juror is not influenced by other external forces, who may have a bearing on the cases before them (McDermott, 2012). Bailiffs escort the jurors to wherever they go, and inform them of what is expected of them, which makes them custodians of justice. The jurors are also required to report to the room of jury assembly, until they are accompanied by the bailiff to the courtroom under the instructions of the judge. This shows a high working relationship between the juror and the bailiffs, which should be handled as professionally as possible.
Court bailiffs also interact with the attorneys, both the prosecuting attorneys as well as the defense attorneys. In court sessions, the bailiffs act as intermediaries between the judge and the attorneys. This will happen mostly when the attorneys have something to present to the judges, in the form of an evidence. The attorneys are not permitted to approach the judges, and may only do so through the bailiffs (in other cases this role might be played by the court clerks). The whole point here is to maintain courtroom order, as well as safeguarding the judges from any harm. This kind of interaction happens all the time in the court, and the bailiff could eject an attorney who is misbehaving, by the orders of the judge.
In the disposition of cases, these professionals and others share a mutual interdependence and develop mutual interdependence that sees them work in harmony to give out justice (Shelden, Brown, Miller, & Fritzler, 2015). The Bailiff, seemingly, interacts with all the professions in the criminal court process, based on the very nature of the job.
Ethical concerns that might arise
All professionals in the criminal court system, including court bailiffs have a code of conduct that they must abide by. The code of ethics is a set of principles and guidelines that are meant to guide the federal judges’ ethical behavior, which was adopted by the United States Judicial Conference of the. According to the US Judicial code of conduct article, the Code of ethics provides guidance for the judges on such issues as judicial independence and integrity, judicial impartiality and diligence and the avoidance of impropriety (or its appearance).
The code of conduct is in place to avoid any kind of malpractice from the bailiffs, malpractice that will cost the citizens justice. Potential ethical concerns or issues may be activities that are not guided by integrity of the bailiff. An example would be to allow a juror discuss any matters that are pending to outside forces. Since the bailiffs are responsible for taking care of the jurors when they are restrained from going home, they have to ensure that the jurors keep the every detail of the case confidential and free from any external influence. The bailiff would be acting in an unethical way if he allows, for whatever reason, the jurors disclose the particulars of any case that is pending to the general public. This might in turn hamper the administration of justice, if at all the juror will be influenced from without.
The bailiffs are also expected to refrain from acting in a manner that would embarrass, offend or humiliate any individual. This is with regard to the fact that the bailiffs often interact with other people in their duty to maintain order in the courtroom. Ethical questions may arise if the bailiffs in the process of maintaining law and order will manhandle anyone, embarrassing them before everybody else.
As tough as that might be, the bailiffs are required to maintain some very high degree of professionalism, for the criminal justice system to maintain its honor.
In conclusion, it is evident that the court bailiff plays a very key role in the courtroom today. This is the person that is responsible for the order of the courtroom, in the presence and the absence of the judge. They are tasked with announcing the entry and the departure of the judge, as well as staying with the jurors when they are separated from the rest of their families. This career is very interesting, and it gets better when one knows that the requirements for one to join this profession are very basic. No much of technicalities are needed when it comes to joining this noble profession, as most states only require a high school graduate to join. The set minimum age in most states is 21, and you have to be physically fit, as it is a job that entails some physical activities. Some prior experience in courtroom operations and basic training in relevant fields such as firearm handling and first aid will be very necessary because it will give you an advantage. Career as a court bailiff is one that involves a lot of interaction with other criminal justice professions, based on the duties and responsibilities. The interaction with the judges happens where a bailiff has to inform the judges that the courtroom is ready for a session to begin, as well as when presenting evidence from the attorneys. The bailiff also interacts with the jurors and the attorneys on a host of platforms, in the service of the court. With all the good things about the profession lies a potential problem, which require integrity to overcome. There might be potential concerns about the court bailiffs when they don’t work as they are supposed to. This comes in when they violate the code of ethics, which stipulates how they should do things and how they should not behave in the course of their court duties. stodians of justice. as a custodian and inform them of what is expected of them, mostly if they ake ther external forces, whi
Cole, G., Smith, C., & DeJong, C. (2015). Criminal justice in America. Boston: Cengage
Gaines, L., & Miller, R. (2015). Criminal justice in action: The core. Boston: Cengage Learning. Law, J. (2015). A dictionary of law (Eighth ed.). Oxford: Oxford University press.
McDermott, S. (2012). The jury in Lincoln’s America. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press.
Rubenser, L., & Priddy, G. (2011). Constables, marshals, and more forgotten offices in Texas
law enforcement. Denton: University of North Texas Press.
Shelden, R., Brown, W., Miller, K., & Fritzler, R. (2015). Crime and Criminal Justice in
American Society (Second ed.). Illinois: Waveland press.
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