What is a Bailiff?

A bailiff maintains order by enforcing conduct regulations in courtrooms, penitentiaries, and sometimes public spaces. The role of a bailiff is an old one that can be traced as far back as early 11th century trial proceedings in Europe. Today, the modern bailiff occupies a variety of positions around the world that each entail their own particular responsibilities.

Contextual Duties

In the United States, a bailiff may also be formally referred to as a peace officer. As a figure of authority in the courtroom, the bailiff is counted on to keep all individuals in the court from posing a threat to its security,

“Bailiff” is technically a colloquial term that can be used describe a number of differently-credentialed offers in uniform providing court security, such as corrections officers and sheriff’s deputies. Depending on the exact specifications of the bailiff’s credentials, they may or may not have a level of law enforcement authority that extends beyond keeping peace within the courtroom.

Qualifying Requirements

To become a bailiff, no matter what particular office one may occupy, it is necessary that the applicants meet the basic court standards of age and education. Bailiffs must be at least be 21 years of age and in the possession of a high school diploma. Not all states require prospective bailiffs to have training in law enforcement techniques such as criminal apprehension, but some may necessitate a basic level of training in these areas.

Whether or not bailiffs are given law enforcement authority, it is necessary that they possess a high degree of professionalism in confronting belligerent individuals. The bailiff’s priority in confict with any individual posing a threat to court security is to de-escalate and control the situation before drastic measures are necessitated.

If necessary, a bailiff will restrain and remove individuals from the court who become too unruly. Bailiffs’ other duties include issuing vital legal documents, swearing in witnesses before their testimony, announcing the judge’s arrival, and prevent unauthorized individuals from entering the court whole trial is in session.

State Differences Between Circuit Court and District Court Bailiffs

Different states often have differently-specified bailiff positions with distinct responsibilities and authority limitations. The regulations of the state affects the skill requirements of applicants for the job,

Hawaiian courts operate with two distinct kinds of bailiff: a circuit court bailiff and a district court bailiff. While circuit court bailiffs in Hawaii will have a degree of control over the calling and selection of jury trials (in addition to their security service), district court bailiffs have no such authority in jury trials and solely fulfill a courtroom security enforcement role.

Bailiffs from Maryland are also divided in circuit court and district court positions. While Hawaiian circuit court bailiffs possess a marginal level of law enforcement authority outside of the courtoom, Maryland circuit bailiffs’ authority is strictly kept within the court.

A Maryland circuit court bailiff is directly employed by the county, while Maryland district court bailiffs are employed by their state instead. Maryland district court bailiffs, like circuit court bailiffs in Hawaii, have a limited degree of public law enforcement authority.

Related Resource: How Do You Become a DEA Agent?

Salary and Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the job outlook for correctional officers and bailiffs between 2014 and 2024 is about 4 percent, slightly slower than average. The median annual salary for bailiffs, according to the BLS, is approximately $40,580.