Officers of the Court – charged with upholding the law and administering the judicial system

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officer of the court:

1. Someone who is charged with upholding the law and administering the judicial system.  *  Typically, officer of the court refers to a judge, clerk. bailiff, sheriff, or the like, but the term also applies to a lawyer, who is obliged to obey court rules and who owes a duty of candor to the court. — aka court officer. [1]

1. Anyone who is an employee of the court (EXAMPLES: a judge; a bailiff; a marshal; a clerk) or a person who, although not an employee of the court, is obligated to conduct himself in a manner that furthers the administration of justice (EXAMPLE: any attorney admitted to practice before the court). [2]

Judge – a public official appointed or elected to hear and decide legal matters in in court; a judicial officer who has the authority to administer justice. [1]

     The judge presides in the courtroom. If a case is tried before a jury, the judge rules on points of law and gives instructions to the jury, informing the jury about the law that governs the case. (The jury determines the facts based on the evidence presented.) If there is no jury, the judge determines the facts and decides the verdict – e.g., finding of guilty or not guilty in a criminal case, or a finding for or against the plaintiff in a civil trial. [2]


     The court clerk or bailiff usually administers the oath to prospective jurors and to witnesses. The clerk is also in charge of physical exhibits introduced into evidence and is responsible for other administrative aspects of a trial. [2]


     The bailiff keeps order in the courtroom, calls the witnesses and is in charge of the jury, as directed by the judge. It is the bailiff’s duty to be certain no one attempts to influence the jury. [2]

sheriff – usually an elected office, duties include custodian of the county jail, executes civil and criminal process, and carries out judicial mandates within the county.

deputy sheriff – an officer who, acting under the direction of a sheriff, may perform most of the duties of the sheriff ’s office.

marshal – judicial officer who provides court security, executes process (carries out orders), and performs other tasks for the court.

court reporter

     The court reporter records verbatim (word for word) everything that is said as part of the formal proceedings in the courtroom, including

  • the testimony of the witnesses,
  • objections made by the lawyers, and
  • the judge’s rulings on those objections.

     In many jurisdictions, audio or audio-visual tapes are used to record the trial in lieu of a court reporter, particularly at the misdemeanor level. In some jurisdictions, both methods are employed, with the reporter’s record used if there is an appeal to a higher court, though occasionally the tapes become part of the record of an appeal. [2]

lawyer – someone licensed to practice law and qualified to advise about legal matters, prepare contracts and other legal instruments, and represent others in court. [1]

     Lawyers for both sides are also officers of the court. Their job is to represent their clients zealously, within the formal rules of the Code of Professional Conduct.  The belief is that justice can best be achieved if each side’s case is vigorously presented by competent legal counsel. [2]


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is pertinent to people everywhere, and is being utilized in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[3]: American BAR Association, “How Courts Work > Officers of the Court”:


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Legal Precepts Adopted (from Europe) into The U.S. Constitution

§ § of Law Embedded into the Constitution Pursuant to the American Revolution

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Federal Rules of Procedure

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