Judges fight to keep courtroom bailiffs - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Lori Brown

Judges fight to keep courtroom bailiffs

Tonight a battle over courtroom bailiffs. Shelby County Judges said they keep the courtrooms safe but they may become a casualty of the county's budget crunch.

The idea is, instead of paying full-time bailiffs overtime, to use part-time retired deputies to guard criminal and civil courtrooms.

Sheriff Mark Luttrell says the plan would work without compromising safety.

But judges disagree.

They said the courtroom is a dangerous place and retired bailiff's are not up to the demanding task of keeping unpredictable, and sometimes mentally ill defendants in check.  

"We need the deputies. I can't think of a day in court where I could say this is a non dangerous day and I could have a part-time retired deputy in his 50's in court," Judge Chris Craft said.
 
"He's told us he can do it without affecting security.  The sheriff has never once been deficient in any responsibilities he has under state law," county commissioner Wyatt Bunker said.

Commissioner David Lillard suggested before putting retired bailiffs in the courtroom, they use them to guard sequestered jurors.

In the end, commissioner Mike Carpenter suggested that the county and Sheriff's Department come up with a way to certify that retired bailiffs are physically fit for the demanding task of guarding  courtrooms.

Commissioners agreed with that...and voted to look at the issue again in two weeks.


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