In 1799 Congress authorized each of the marshals of the federal courts to appoint as many as three persons “to attend upon the grand and other jurors, and for other necessary purposes….” Those persons whose duties focused on the courtroom eventually became known as bailiffs. Their principal duties were to maintain order during federal trials and trial-related activities and to supervise the jury.
Congress in 1853 raised to five the maximum number of bailiffs each marshal was allowed to appoint. In 1944 Congress reduced that number to four and authorized the court criers to perform the duties of the bailiff. Despite the continued provision by Congress for the appointment of bailiffs to attend the court, maintain order, wait on juries, and perform such other necessary duties as the judge or marshal may direct, few of these officers remain in service to the federal judicial system. Bailiffs’ duties have been assumed in most courts by courtroom deputies working under the supervision of the clerk’s office.
Court Officers and Staff