21. Who are some of the other players in the court system?
The court system can be large and complicated. To run properly, it requires a number of individuals to carry out specific functions. Some of the primary actors are as follows:
• Process Servers – Process servers deliver legal documents (serve process) to individuals being called into court. Some jurisdictions allow private parties to serve process for the court. Other jurisdictions require police authorities to serve process.
• Clerks of Court – Clerks of court run the office that manages all publicly filed court documents for that jurisdiction. All court documents are first filed with the Clerk of Court. The Clerk of Court may also manage the process for service of process.
• Court Reporter – The court reporter records and transcribes the official record of the court. This record is used in appellate review.
• Bailiff – The bailiff controls security in the courtroom and carries out the orders of the court. This includes executing contempt orders.
• Paralegals & Law Clerks – Paralegals and law clerks carry out many of the administrative tasks that support the court and trial process. This includes conducting research for attorneys, companies, government bodies, judges, or justices.
• Staff Attorneys – Legislative and administrative bodies employ staff attorneys. These attorneys research issues and serve as the primary architects and scribes of laws proposed by the bodies they serve. For example, staff attorneys write the majority of the laws proposed by members of the legislative branch.
• Prosecutors & Public Defendants – These are the government attorneys employed to represent the government in prosecuting alleged crimes and representing the defendants subjected to prosecution.
• Law Professors – These legal scholars and practice experts train attorneys and act as contributors to the body of legal thought. Researching professors write about specific areas of law and provide analysis and insight for use by practitioners, legislators, and the court.
• Law Journals – Law journals review, edit, and publish works of original thought that add to the intellectual body of law. These published works serve as influential sources for use by practitioners, legislators, and the court.
• Bar Associations – Bar associations are federal, state, and local groups of attorneys. These organizations can be very influential in shaping the development of law and the legal system through advisory votes and committee proposals.
The above list of contributors to the court system is by-no-means exhaustive.
• Practice Question: Derrick is a new business manager who oversees the corporate collections group. As part of his role, he has to be aware of all legal actions by the corporation for outstanding debts. Derrick recalls some of what he learned in school about the legal process, but is very confused by the whole process. He tries to read legal material online, but realizes he does not have enough time to fully educate himself on the process. He assigns his intern (you) to explain the whole litigation process in two pages. He specifically wants you to begin be explaining the role of everyone involved in the process. Write a memo explaining the role of everyone involved in the litigation process.