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Handbook for Bailiffs

NCJ Number
C O'Connell
Date Published
17 pages
Duties and responsibilities of a bailiff working in the South Dakota court system are outlined; procedures prior to opening court, courtroom procedures, exclusion of witnesses, and recesses are discussed.
In South Dakota the title 'bailiff' traditionally describes a judicial officer whose primary responsibility is to assist the judge in the smooth functioning of the courtroom. Since the bailiff acts as the judge's aid, he should not fraternize with counsel, litigants, or witnesses. Another responsibility of the bailiff is attending to the jury. It is the bailiff's duty to keep jurors isolated and free from outside influences. Prior to the opening of court, the bailiff should check the jury room for needed supplies, prepare the coffee pot, and provide fresh water and clean glasses for judge and counsel. The bailiff should direct jurors into the jury box as their names are called and challenges for cause begin. When the jury have been selected and have their first recess, they should be instructed by the bailiff regarding courtroom protocol. When court is in session, the bailiff's duties include letting the judge know when everyone is ready to proceed, making sure that the defendant is seated with counsel before the jury is summoned, and escorting the jurors to and from the box. The bailiff may be responsible for calling the court to order. Additional responsibilities include handling the exclusion of witnesses from the courtroom, accompanying jurors to view premises relevant to the subject under litigation, ushering jurors to the jury room, arranging for food to be brought in or making reservations for dinner, and making reservations for housing the jury overnight at a hotel or motel designated by the judge. When the jury reaches a verdict, the bailiff so informs the judge. Appendixes are included in the pamphlet.


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