Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Bailiff Definition:

A person acting with legal authority in the seizure of personal property; and, also, the official in each courtroom who attends to security within.

Related Terms: Bail, Sheriff

Usually acting with official court authority, a bailiff takes custody of a specified item of property.

But also the official in each courtroom who attends to the security and comforts of the judges, jurors, and the court in general.

Traditionally, a bailiff reports to a sheriff.

John Bouvier defines a bailiff as:

"A person to whom some authority, care, guardianship, or jurisdiction is delivered (or) committed....

"A sheriff's officer or deputy.

"A court attendant...."

Also, a person who has legal custory of some property for the benefit of another, synonymous then to a bailee.

Also, as Rapalje explains a bailiff:

"A person having the franchise of executing legal process...."


  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Legal Definition of Sheriff
  • Rapalje, Stewart and Lawrence, Robert, A Dictionary of American and English Law, Volume I (Jersey City: Frederick D. Linn & Co. Law Publishers and Booksellers, 1883).

Categories & Topics:

Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!