It only took me a few days during my Nevada-mandated court observing hours (40 of them) to realize who my most important ally in the courtroom would be. I'd wander into a random courtroom, confused because I couldn't figure out the docket and wondering whether I could get the hours of observation that I needed that day. Luckily, someone came to my rescue. The most helpful folks in the courtroom and in the courthouse will:
- Help you get the right piece of paper you need to get paid by the courts
- Hand you the correct schedule of appearances for the day
- Tell you which cases have already been heard
- Convince the court clerk to get your cases heard earlier so you don't have to wait around
- Perhaps let you get away with things you aren't supposed to do in a courtroom, such as check your smartphone and read a book during breaks (as long as you do so discreetly)
- If it's a big enough courthouse, these nice folks might be stationed at a variety of places. If it's a small courthouse, they do everything. They might save you the trouble of going through the metal detector if they know who you are, thus ensuring a longer life for your cream-colored briefcase (I have one).
- Tell you what's really going on in the judge's court, even if the judge insists her drug court is highly effective. Ask the most helpful person in the courtroom how many defendants he or she has seen before and the number will be close to 100%. These folks have no political agenda. It's quite refreshing!
- Share their food with you if you look hungry and are lusting after their donuts, even though you're not supposed to eat in the courtroom
- Make you feel safe, no matter how intimidating the defendant in the orange jumpsuit.
- Really make you appreciate a man/woman in uniform.
- Never get stressed out, lose a piece of paper, or lose their composure
- Get tough if they have to be, and sometimes that's a good thing
Who are these marvelous, hard-working, in-the-know, humble, discreet and sometimes flexible superstars of the courtroom? Meet the bailiffs/marshals (in Clark County, they recently unionized and went from being bailiffs to being marshals). There are a lot of wonderful people in the courthouse, but the marshals take the prize, hence this little ode to them. If you are beginning court interpreter, I suggest you make friends with these wonderful creatures. Next time, the donuts are on me!