Barry County's circuit clerk requests more bailiffs

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

2 reserves, 1 full-time deputy to provide more coverage

Barry County Circuit Clerk Craig Williams recently requested three additional bailiffs to provide services at the Barry County Judicial Center.

Bailiffs must be commissioned with the sheriff's office and are utilized in legal proceedings to maintain order in the courtroom and provide security.

Out of the three requested, two will serve part-time on an as-needed basis at the courthouse, and one will serve as a full-time deputy, but also help with bailiff duties if needed.

"My understanding is of the three I requested, they [county commission] will give the sheriff an extra deputy to be used as a bailiff, and made funds available to let reserve deputies serve on an hourly basis," said Williams. "We're pretty busy. Right now, we have one bailiff upstairs trying to run two to four courtrooms.

"We have to make the law library into a makeshift courtroom sometimes, and we keep one bailiff at the door when people come in. And that's where the bailiff will be to help with checking people in and security so there's not as much of a bottleneck there."

Williams estimated the two part-time bailiffs, which will be paid at a rate of $10 per hour from the County Commission fund, will be utilized about four to five times a month to help provide additional coverage and keep order.

"We have some altercations within the courtroom, and when you don't have a bailiff in there, people see this as an opportunity to escalate those situations," he said. "The sheriff sometimes is shorthanded, and if you don't have anyone available, and they're out on calls, that's where we're out trying to help."

In addition to keeping order, checking in visitors and providing security at the courthouse, a bailiff also helps manage the courtroom environment, including the handling of disrespectful behaviors such as excessive talking, and other duties.

"Sometimes, when we have prisoners here, the bailiff will stand watch over the prisoners in the courtroom," Williams said. "Or during jury trials, one is in charge of the jury."

Epperly said having an extra deputy will help the county by providing additional coverage.

"When the economy got bad, we laid four deputies off a few years back, and the county commission said as soon as the sales tax kicked in we applied for, we would put the four back on," he said. "But, this was an extra person for better coverage for the county."

Due to the county's size and the workload of its deputies, that additional deputy was needed.

"This is a big county and our caseloads keep getting heavier and that will help us," Epperly said. "And, sometimes with a fourth person, we can cover the county better that way. We break the county down in different areas, so it gives us an extra person."

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