A pressing need for bailiffs is facing the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department at the present time.
Sheriff Kerry Lee reported at the county commission meeting July 3 since Lt. Jon Neighbor retired several months ago, the department has been without regular bailiffs. “I’ve even had to fill in that role myself at times,” he said.
In a later telephone conversation with the Record Lee said, “In the past the jail or patrol have been furnishing the bailiffs for the district court. Now that we are short positions, which I have not refilled, we are short in the jail and the courthouse and are using whoever we can find. I have approached the district court to find out if they would be interested in participating in that service, and finding a funding source for a bailiff position, but we have not yet worked out any of the details as far as to who, what, where and how. But we definitely have to do something soon because we are presently very short handed.”
In today’s court system,the bailiff, be it a man or woman, can serve several functions (depending on jurisdiction. They provide security and safety to the court and judge and are responsible for the “Calling of Cases” and “witnesses” to the court, and ‘safeguarding’ the jury members; the bailiff is an actual officer of the court.
They maintain a watchful eye and assist in carrying out the judge’s orders. They control the people coming in and out of the courtroom. If a piece of evidence is needed or a witness needs to be brought in, it is the bailiff’s job to do so. They also administer the oath to witness and say “all rise” when the judge enters the courtroom.
Lee said in cases where a person from the detention center is on trial, “then we need two bailiffs, one in charge of the inmate, and one to watch over the courtroom proceedings.”
But Lincoln County has not funded a bailiff position, as is done in some other counties. “It’s always just been put to the sheriff’s office to supply that, and right now, we don’t have the additional personnel,” Lee said. “I think Ely has two full time bailiffs, but we have never had that here. I think all are in favor of having a full-time position, but just how to fund it, and who is going to be in charge, is a question yet to be answered. I have even brought in some retired officers to do it part-time.”
Meadow Valley Justice Court Judge Mike Cowley said he thought the best way would be to have a full-time bailiff, county funded position, but under the direction of the county sheriff. He said, “We, as three courts, can easily keep one person busy 40 hours a week. It would be a very full position.”