View Full Version : Any Bailiffs Here?
Looking for any helpful information from bailiffs or anyone with knowledge of court security procedures and techniques.
Books, articles, life experiences, etc.
I've had four years of my career in court security.
-Never relax around prisoners. You can be courteous, and always professional, but don't let your guard down. Maintain all your officer safety procedures - never expose your gun side, stay in a proper interview stance, never let them walk behind you. Remember that their primary duty in life is to commit crimes, assault officers and escape from custody. That goes for all prisoners, no matter what the charge.
-Learn the jail's classification system and know where the prisoners in your courtroom are housed, what gangs they are clicked up with and any other issues that are noted in the jail computer. Seat them accordingly to prevent problems between custodies.
-A lot of the people you are dealing with aren't in custody, and aren't necessarily bad people. For many people, especially jurors, you might be the only law enforcement officer they ever have contact with. Keep in mind that their opinion of the entire law enforcement profession will be based on how you conduct yourself.
-Get assigned to a criminal courtroom if you have a choice. Civil court is boring as hell.
-Get to know your judge, clerks and the attorneys in your courtroom as people. If they invite you to go out after work or get together on a weekend, do it. Even most of the defense attorneys are just regular people and you will make some good friends.
-Don't get too familiar with defense attorneys, though. No matter how tight you get with them, they don't get to know our inside information, internal gossip and other things that we generally don't tell the public.
-Pay attention to the legal proceedings. You will learn a lot, especially in a criminal courtroom. It's a lot easier to watch some other officer get his case torn apart than to learn it firsthand. Keep those lessons in mind when you go back to patrol, and pass them on to other deputies.
-If you are working a single point entry screening station (metal detector/x-ray), don't let your guard down. Single point entry is there for a reason - keeping people in the courthouse from being murdered. You do not want to be the one who let a gun, knife or bomb get inside. Everyone gets screened except for those who are exempt per written policy. If your agency doesn't have a written policy, get them to write one.
-Know search and seizure law regarding courthouse entry screening thoroughly. When you find drugs or illegal weapons (and you will), arrest the person. Do not allow them to just decide to not enter, take it back to their car or toss it out. If it's a crime to possess and it's a legal search, arrest. Your fundamental duty as a law enforcement officer is to enforce the law.
-Before your first day in court begins, meet your judge and find out what he/she wants. Each judge has their own procedures they like to follow, what they want from the bailiff and how tight a ship they run. Some judges want absolute churchlike silence. Some don't mind court staff having whispered conversations. A few let it turn into a social hall and don't mind the chaos. Remember that if the judge wants it done that way, that is how you will do it. If he doesn't mind attorneys talking out loud to each other, don't tell them to be quiet unless the judge indicates such. On the other hand, if the judge wants it quiet, don't hesitate to remind them to quiet down or go outside to talk.
-The clerks and regular attorneys in your courtroom are a great resource when you are new. They know the procedures and paperwork and usually will explain it to you if you aren't familiar and there isn't an experienced bailiff there to show you.
-When attorneys are conferring with their clients, whether in or out of custody, respect their privacy. They have privilege, and you should not be trying to listen on their confidential conversations.
-When a defendant needs an interpreter, wait for the official court interpreter to arrive, even if you are thoroughly bilingual. Nothing like trying to just help out and wind up derailing a case because you don't have that paper that says the court certifies you to do so.
-Use lunchtime to work out. A lot of courts take a 90 minute lunch break. Don't fall into the habit of eating a high-calorie lunch and then sitting around doing nothing. Get in a quick, hard workout and then eat a healthy lunch. Bring food from home, and don't spend all your money on the numerous restaurants that are always within walking distance of just about every courthouse.
-Have fun. Find the humor in situations. Play pranks on your fellow bailiffs. Turning up the ringer volume on their desk phone (normally turned down to barely audible) and then calling it when you know they are on the other side of the courtroom is good for a yuk.
-If you are single, use discretion if dating court staff like clerks. Especially if you wind up dumping her or vice versa. Everyone in the courthouse knows everyone else's business.
thank you for taking the time to type all that.
your efforts are sincerely appreciated.
Lots and lots of Caffeine!
+1 on civil court being lame! 99% of it I have seen is landlord/tenant stuff. Yuck!
Bailiffs here are the ladies that answer the phone and deal with the juries, but I've been assigned to court security for 5 of my 8 years on the sheriff's department.
It's horrifically boring.
I do not particularly care for it at this juncture. I used to have a partner more my age, and he was a blast to work with. Now I've got an old salty sarge who is a good sarge, but just not wound up like I am.
You are working in a building full of lawyers, politicians, or a combination thereof. If it's a small town like it is here, you will get caught up in the political BS.
Non-court tenants in the court building mean dealing with the general public who is upset over their tax bill, and then one floor up you are dealing with a murder suspect who has 25 family members there to "support" him (read, hand off dope, guns, knives, porn, smokes, and cell phones to him).
In an inmate's mind, being in the courthouse is a perfectly reasonable excuse to act like a ****.
You will learn that the criminal justice system is about as efficient as a screen door on a submarine.
You will become so bored you may actually consider slinging trash into the back of a truck as an alternative career.
While the administration/brass of your sheriff's department will completely and utterly abandon you at this post, this can be both a blessing and a curse. You stay out of the line of fire (especially during election time) but they will completely forget to let you know about upcoming training, qualifications, cook-outs, retirements, policy changes, operations planning, ecetera, and then they will blame you for not knowing.
The welfare department is most evil government organization in the history of evil government organizations.
County Commissioners will find every single reason they can to NOT spend money on security equipment, cameras, ordinary safety equipment like painted yellow lines on curbs outside the building, but they will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on restoring a plank of wood in the main hallway for six months.
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