Bailiff  What They Do

Just the Facts

Bailiffs Career Video

Insider Info

dotBailiffs help judges do their job. Their duties vary from place to place, but bailiffs basically manage a courtroom and jury during a trial. They maintain custody of prisoners and serve civil and criminal documents. They maintain order and ensure that the lawful needs of the court are met.

dotBailiffs deal with the strange and unexpected every day. "The domestic relations division definitely exposed me to some ironies of life," says Tim Mooney, a bailiff in the domestic relations division of the Cuyahoga County courts in Ohio. "Some are unusual and offbeat."

dotYou need lots of people skills to do this job.

"It's mainly a personality thing," says bailiff John Lodge.

"You meet a lot of different people in a lot of different scenarios, so you have to have big shoulders and be able to talk your way through some difficult situations. You have to be tenacious without being too tough. Yet you certainly can't be timid."

dotIn many states, bailiffs are known as peace officers or sheriffs with all the attendant skills -- weapons training and a knack for security. In general, they can be considered law enforcement officers.

Landlords, solicitors and financial institutions often hire bailiffs to deliver notices or carry out legal orders outside of the court. This is called process serving.

dotTypical job duties for a bailiff include:

  • Finding people who are on arrest warrants and taking them into custody
  • Taking prisoners to or from courtrooms
  • Providing protection to court personnel, jurors and witnesses
  • Serving civil and criminal writs
  • Guarding prisoners when they are in hospital
  • Collecting debts and performing evictions

dotBailiffs have to stay in good shape. They have to be able to lift relatively heavy objects. They have to stand for long periods of time. Mooney logs 40 to 50 hours a week.

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this career is about?Check out Just the Facts for simple lists of characteristics.

At a Glance

Keep law and order in the courts

  • Bailiffs help judges do their job
  • You have to be able to lift relatively heavy objects and stand for long periods of time
  • Educational requirements vary from place to place