Glossary of Federal Court Employees

A great number of people served the federal court in many different roles. Below are definitions of many of the positions of the court.

  • Assistant Chief Deputy - Assists the Chief Deputy. See Chief Deputy for duties
  • Assistant Court Clerk – Assists Court Clerk. See U.S. Court Clerk for duties
  • Assistant District Attorney - Tries cases, and assists the U.S. District Attorney
  • Assistant Jailer - Assists Jailer. See Jailer for duties.
  • Bailiff - Attended court while it was in session, waited on grand and petit jurors, maintained order in the courtroom and carried out any other tasks assigned by the judge or U.S. Marshal. Usually, the court employed more than one bailiff at a time. The judge could also employ his own private bailiff.
  • Chief Deputy - A deputy placed in charge of a district, or over a small group of deputies
  • Contractor - Someone who contracted with the federal court to provide a service
  • Cook - Cooks meals for the jail, or a deputy
  • Court Crier - Announced the opening and closing of court as well as all cases brought before the judge
  • Creek Lighthorse - Creek tribal police
  • Chickasaw Police - Chickasaw tribal police
  • Day Guard - Worked the day shift in the jail, under the employment of the Jailer
  • Deputy Marshal - Law Officers who enforced federal law in within the court's jurisdiction. Under the supervision of the U.S. Marshal.
  • Deputy U.S. Court Clerk - Assisted the U.S. Court Clerk. See U.S. Court Clerk.
  • District Judge - See Judge
  • Doorman - Worked at the front door to the courthouse
  • Guard - Worked in the jail, under employment of the Jailer
  • Guard to Detroit - Guard who accompanied a prisoner transfer to Detroit, Michigan.
  • Guard to Illinois - Guard who accompanied a prisoner transfer to Illinois
  • High Sheriff - See Sheriff
  • Indian Police - Tribal police under the control of the Office of Indian Affairs
  • Interpreter - Contacted to translate court proceedings when needed
  • Jailer - Responsible for the care and upkeep of the U.S. Jail. Employed by the U.S. Marshal.
  • Jail Guard - Under the supervision of the jailer; provided security in the jail
  • Jail Physician - Doctor contracted or employed to provide medical services to the prisoners
  • Jail Staff - Employee of the jailer; worked in the Jail office
  • Judge - Presided over trials; instructed juries; sentenced convicted defendants. Appointed by the President.
  • Law Officer - See Sheriff
  • Lawyer - Responsible for defending suspects against the charges brought forth by the government. If a defendant could not afford an attorney, one would be appointed by the court.
  • Lighthorse - Tribal police
  • Posse Com. - Short for posse comitatus; see Posse.
  • Posse - A person or persons hired by a deputy to assist in carrying out his duties. Usually a short term position, hired and supervised by an individual deputy.
  • Post Office Inspector - Officer of the U.S. Postal Service
  • Railroad Detective - Detective employed by a railroad company
  • Revenue Officer - Agent enforcing revenue laws, especially investigating moon shining
  • Seminole Police - Seminole tribal police
  • Sheriff - Local law enforcement officer, not employed by the federal court
  • Special Deputy - See Deputy and Posse. Often a short term officer, deputized under special circumstances
  • Stenographer - Responsible for keeping a written record of court proceedings
  • Turnkey - Jail employee responsible for locking down individual cells. Held the jail keys and regulated access in and out of the jail wing built in 1888.
  • U.S. Commissioner - Took complaints, issued warrants, writs and other paperwork, and initiated arraignments and indictments. A judicial district could have numerous commissioners located at different towns. Today this position is known as the U.S. Magistrate.
  • U.S. Court Clerk - Chief record keeper of the court. At times, employed assistants that were called Deputy Court Clerks.
  • U.S. District Attorney - Prosecuted criminal and civil cases on behalf of the United States. Employed one or more assistants.
  • U.S. Marshal - Chief financial and law enforcement officer of the court. The primary function of the marshal was to support the federal court. Usually employed a chief deputy and several deputies to work for him. Duties of the U.S. Marshal included overseeing any deputies, handling all prisoners, disbursing all monies, including paying fees and expenses of the court clerks, U.S. Attorneys, jurors and witnesses; renting the courtrooms and jail space; hiring bailiffs, criers and janitors. Appointed by the President.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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