Officer of the court

In common law jurisdictions the generic term officer of the court is applied to all those who, in some degree in the function of their professional or similar qualifications, have a part in the legal system. Officers of the court should not be confused with court officers, the law enforcement personnel who work in courts.

Officers of the court have legal and ethical obligations. They are tasked to participate to the best of their ability in the functioning of the judicial system to forge justice out of the application of the law and the simultaneous pursuit of the legitimate interests of all parties and the general good of society.

Court properEdit

Foremost those who make the decisions that determine the course of justice and its outcome:

Investigation and expertiseEdit

These are people who may appear in court and testify or offer opinions due to their expertise or experience in a given subject. Their opinions sometimes rise to the level of scientific evidence and are evaluated by judges and juries to reach conclusions or verdicts. Another term for persons consulted by a court is amici curiae.

Services to the partiesEdit

These are people whose professional duties are important to the functioning of the court system.

  • Bail bondsmen, who may, however, undertake action to capture an absconding client.
  • Interpreters/translators are generally considered officers of the court. They render their services to the parties in the interests of the court proceedings. Some interpreters may be employed on a permanent basis by courts to act as interpreters when called upon, e.g. International Court of Justice and the European Court of Justice. In some jurisdictions, interpreters may also be deemed as officers of the court pro tempore. Court interpreters and translators have an absolute ethical duty to tell judges the truth and avoid evasion.
  • Court-appointed special advocates in some jurisdictions are considered officers of the court.
  • Process servers carry out service of process. In some jurisdictions, they are appointed by a court and are considered appointed officers of the court.
  • Messenger of the Court, who will carrying communications, verbal or written, and execute other orders of the court.

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