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What does a Court Usher do?

By Lindsay Zortman
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A court usher is a member of the criminal or civil court who attends to the parties entering the courtroom and handles the tasks necessary during a court proceeding. There are minimal qualifications for this type of position, but a high school diploma and good communications skills are usually required. Ushers are in charge of coordinating all that happens inside the courtroom, including seating witnesses, administering oaths, labeling evidence and preparing the courtroom. The term "court officer" is used in the United States to describe the role of a court usher.

Part of the court usher job description is to prepare the courtroom every morning before court begins. This part of the job includes ensuring the judge, lawyers and jury have all the necessary equipment they might need when court starts. Keeping the courtroom looking orderly between breaks and changes in court sessions is another part of preparing the courtroom.

Throughout court proceedings, it is the responsibility of the court usher to call witnesses into the courtroom if they are waiting outside the room. Administering the oath to witnesses, escorting the jury to and from the courtroom, and passing information from the lawyers to the judge are all activities the usher does during a court session. Other tasks are done by a person in this position if the judge or lawyers in the courtroom request it. Throughout court proceedings, he or she exudes a control over the room, including professional members of the court, the jury and the public.

Labeling items as they are entered into evidence by the prosecution or defense is an essential part of the court usher's job description. Handling the evidence appropriately by placing it in designated areas and recording the evidence into a log is also necessary. Mishandling of evidence can result in a mistrial, so all court ushers must know their job well when it comes to touching, labeling and recording important court evidence.

As the face of the court, the court usher greets people coming into the courtroom. This includes the media, members of the family involved in the case, and other public visitors of the court. The usher's job description includes being courteous and helpful to all court visitors. Court ushers should not allow their personal opinion regarding a court case or the people involved in the court case to interfere with their ability to perform the duties of their job.

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Discussion Comments

By jmc88 — On Dec 27, 2011

I think court ushers are a little bit more common in the UK than they are in the US. Maybe not necessarily more common, but more noticeable. I have seen a couple of English court cases, and they are a little more formal than American cases.

I have never really paid much attention while watching any high profile US cases, though, to see if there is someone responsible for taking care of the evidence or whatever. Like someone else mentioned, maybe it just depends on the location of the court. I am from a rural area where one or two people can take care of the same thing it takes six or seven people to do in a larger court system. I'm sure something like a federal court would have different roles for a court usher, as well.

One of the things that wasn't really mentioned and that I never really thought about until now was that someone like an usher or clerk or someone would be just at risk of releasing case sensitive information during a trial as a juror would. I guess that is just another reason to make sure the usher is trustworthy.

By Izzy78 — On Dec 26, 2011

@TreeMan - Luckily, I don't spend a lot of time in courtrooms, but when I have been with people there, I have noticed a lot of different people who kind of mill around at the front. I am from a city with quite a few people, so I guess it takes more people to take care of things. Usually there is one person with a badge who seems like a deputy or someone. I would assume he is the bailiff.

There is also someone else with a badge who calls everyone to order and introduces the judge, so I would assume that is the usher. Maybe in my court the usher is also a peace officer. I have never been around for anything like evidence submission or witness, though, so I don't know who handles that.

There are also a lot of clerks who sit at the front and find various paperwork if it is needed. I would be willing to assume from what I can tell that they are higher up the ladder than the usher.

By TreeMan — On Dec 25, 2011

@titans62 - I was sort of wondering the same thing about where a court usher would come from. My initial thought was that maybe they were like a court clerk that got promoted to the job, but I really don't know how the hierarchy works and whether or not an usher would be considered higher up than a clerk. Either way, I would still be curious to know what the average salary of a court usher would be.

As far as I know, a bailiff is more in charge of keeping order in the court room if things get out of control. I think part of the problem is with some of the courtroom TV shows that are on now. It seems like one person usually serves as kind of a hybrid between a bailiff and court usher. I think in more "normal" courtroom, there are two separate positions with different responsibilities.

I figure a lot of it would probably depend on the location, too. Other countries do things a lot differently than in the US.

By titans62 — On Dec 24, 2011

Hmm, I've never really been involved in a court case, but it does sound like this would be a pretty important job to have. How would you go about getting it? Does the court just post the job listing somewhere and have interviews, or are the ushers usually promoted from some other job within the system? How much would someone get paid to do a job like this, and are there any other jobs with higher responsibility someone could get further down the line?

Since it doesn't sound like a court usher is the same thing as a bailiff, what is the difference? Obviously, a bailiff is some sort of peace officer of some sort, but I thought they were usually the ones that interacted with the parties and the judge and swore people in. Does it change between different court systems?

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