Before being a judge, I didn’t really know who those people assist-
ing the judge in the courtroom were. I knew there were clerks and judi-
cial assistants and bailiffs, but I wasn’t sure who was who or who did
Turns out I’m not alone. From time to time, a lawyer in my court-
room will point to the bailiff and call him or her the clerk. Or speak
to the clerk as if she is my judicial assistant. Perhaps it’s a symptom
of lawyers spending less time in the courtroom than they used to.
But whatever the reason, I assume at least some
of this magazine’s readers would appreciate
a primer on who the people in my neighbor-
I have two staff members who report to me:
a judicial assistant and a bailiff. In addition,
some judges have a court reporter on staff.
Others are assigned court reporters from a central pool.
The judicial assistant is the nerve center of a
judicial division. JAs used to be called secre-
taries back when the job meant taking dicta-
tion, typing and filing, but all that’s changed.
Now the JA manages the constant inflow of
paper and electronic filings, sched-
ules calendar matters, tracks matters
to be ruled on, and administers
active cases. The job varies from
judge to judge, but a fair description
is some combination of chief of staff, traffic cop, customer
service representative and information manager.
The bailiff is my in-court assistant. He or she wrangles
lawyers, manages the jury, sets up the courtroom, makes sure
all the electronic systems are working properly, and generally
does whatever the judge needs in the courtroom. In addition,
in many divisions, the bailiff assists the JA with paperwork,
and both take phone calls from lawyers and members of the
public. Unlike Rusty from The People’s Court, our bailiffs are
not law enforcement officers.
These two people, the JA and bailiff, are hired by the
judge and answer solely to the judge.
10 ARIZONA ATTORNEY MARCH 2015
CIVIL PRACTICE POINTERS by Hon. Randall H. Warner
Hon. Randall H. Warner
is an Arizona Superior Court Judge
in Maricopa County.
The clerk—or, more accurately, deputy
clerk—works with the judge, not for the
judge. In Arizona, the Clerk of the Court
for each county is elected by the voters. It
is the Clerk who assigns a deputy clerk to
work with a judge and who has supervisory
authority over that deputy clerk. That said,
the deputy clerk works in the judge’s chambers day in and day out and is an integral
part of our team. The deputy clerk works
closely with the judge to make sure minute
entries timely and accurately document the
judge’s decisions and what happened in the
courtroom. He or she is also responsible for
In the courtroom, the clerk typically
sits right next to the judge. The bailiff
sits nearby, but may
be up and about
multi-tasking in the
courtroom. The JA
usually is not in
the courtroom, but
rather is back in
the office managing
things while court is
The court reporter, if there is one,
usually sits in the
well doing his or
her magic with the
reporting equipment. It’s hard to
miss the court
Some judges around the state have
law clerks. We don’t in Maricopa County,
although some hire law-trained bailiffs to
do double-duty. In some specialty areas,
there are staff attorneys to assist the judges.
So these are the people in my neighborhood. They make my work possible and,
hopefully, your job easier and more pleasant. Without them, I would be a helpless
guy in a black polyester dress.
And by the way, they talk to me. So treat
them with respect. AZ AT
Welcome to a new column that provides tips
from judges on civil practice. If there are
practice tips you’d like covered—or if
you are a judge who would like to write a
column—write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The judicial assistant
is the nerve center
of a judicial division,
part chief of staff and
part traffic cop.