Mock Trial Strategies

Bailiff's Duties

Bailiff's Duties

Phelps County Courthouse, Nebraska

A competent bailiff times both teams in a fair manner, is critical to the success of a trial, and points will be given on his/her performance

The bailiff is usually provided by the defense. (check your regional rules).

This is an ideal role for someone who wants to be a part of the team but does not have a lot of time to devote. Perhaps they want to observe Mock Trial to decide whether they want to take on more responsibility next year.

Materials a bailiff should have

  • Time sheets provided in the competition material   (3)
  • Time cards provided by the competition co-coordinator.
  • Time keeping device(s)
    • Stopwatch of some sort
    • Cell phones are not allowed
    • Two stop watches are better 
      • One to use for the prosecution/plaintiff
      • One to use for the defense
      • Helps if you can set a timer with the total time allowed and have it count down to zero

Typical Duties (may vary a bit)

  • When the judge arrives in the courtroom, introduce yourself and explain that you will assist as the court bailiff.
  • Call the court to order as the judges enter the courtroom.
    • “All rise. This Court with the Honorable Judge ______ presiding, is now in session. Please be seated and come to order.”
    • In the unlikely event a judge calls a recess during the trial, say “all rise” as the judges leave the courtroom and again as they re-enter.
    • When the trial is finished say “all rise” as the judges leave the courtroom.  
  •  Timekeeping is the bailiff’s biggest job.
    • Be prepared with supplies you need.
    • Practice with the stop watch and know how to use it before the competition
    • How to be an effective timekeeper
      • Follow the time limits set for each segment of the Mock Trial and keep track of the time used and time left on the time sheet provided 
      • Sit in the jury box for opening statement and closing argument (otherwise the speakers cannot see your time cards)
      • During direct and cross examinations time should stop when attorneys make objections
      • Restart once the judge has ruled on the objection and the next question is asked 
      • You should also stop the time if the judge questions a witness or attorney
      • After each witness has finished his/her testimony announce the time remaining, e.g., if after direct examination of two witnesses, the plaintiff/prosecution has used ten minutes, announce “8 minutes remaining” (18 minutes total allowed for direct/redirect, minus the ten minutes already used).
      • When the time has run out for any segment of the trial, announce “Time!” and hold up the “0” card 
      • After each witness has completed his/her testimony, mark on the time sheet the time to the nearest one-half minute 
      • When three minutes are left, bailiff will hold up “3” minute card, then again at “1” minute and finally at “0” minutes 
      • Be sure time cards are visible to all the judges as well as to the attorneys  
      • Time cards (3, 1, 0 minute) will be provided in each courtroom 
      • Leave them in the courtroom for the next trial round.

Resource Links

Sample Time Sheet

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