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.