Court Usher Careers

How to become a Court Usher

What does a Court Usher do?

Ushers make sure that all the people connected with a case being heard in court are in the right place and know what they have to do. In Scotland, ushers working in sheriff courts are known as court officers, and those working in the Court of Session and in the High Court of Justiciary are known as macers.

Duties vary according to the kind of court the usher works in, but could include preparing the courtroom, clerical duties, calling witnesses and checking defendants and lawyers are present and ready to go into court.

If on duty in the courtroom, ushers would remain throughout the sitting and might:

  • administer the oath to defendants and witnesses
  • take messages to and from the judge and jury
  • label exhibits or pieces of evidence
  • keep order in the public areas.
In criminal cases, one usher is normally assigned to a particular jury. The usher swears on oath not to discuss the case and not to let anyone unauthorised speak to the jurors. They stay on duty outside the jurors' room while they deliberate, and take messages from them to the judge. This is known as being a 'sworn usher'.

Ushers often have administrative duties such as photocopying and dealing with telephone enquiries. They also need a fairly good knowledge of the legal system which is why a legal studies training course is often a popular choice for a wannabe court usher.

What's the working environment like working as a Court Usher?

Court ushers usually work from 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They may be required to work at other times if the court has late sessions. Part-time posts are often available.

Ushers work in courtrooms and offices. Travel between courts may be involved, especially in rural areas. If they are a sworn usher, acting as jury escort, they may occasionally have to spend a night away from home in a hotel.

Ushers wear dark clothes and calf-length black gowns.

What does it take to become a Court Usher?

To be a court usher, you should:

  • be responsible, tolerant and confident
  • have a clear speaking voice
  • have a firm manner for dealing with difficult people
  • be able to stay calm and work under pressure
  • like working as part of a team
  • be discreet - a lot of information is confidential
  • be able to follow instructions.

Court Usher Career Opportunities

Her Majesty's Court Service brings together magistrates' courts and the court service into one organisation. It is an agency of the Department of Constitutional Affairs and now oversees all courts in England and Wales.

The Scottish Courts Service, an executive agency of the Scottish Executive, is responsible for running the 49 sheriff courts, the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary. The Scottish district courts are run by local authorities.

The Northern Ireland Court Service is part of the Civil Service and oversees all courts in the country.

There are magistrates’ and district courts in most towns and cities. County, crown and sheriff courts are found in larger towns and cities. The supreme courts are in London and Edinburgh.

There are prospects of promotion to supervising usher in charge of the work of a number of ushers. One supervising usher in each crown court also acts as a juror bailiff, responsible for explaining their duties to jurors and ensuring that they follow all the procedures correctly.

In Scotland, court officers and macers can be promoted to supervisory levels, running a team of officers or macers. They can also be promoted to administrative officer grade.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Court Usher that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Her Majesty's Court Service
Clive House
Petty France
Tel: 020 7189 2000

Scottish Court Service
Hayweight House
23 Lauriston Street
Tel: 0131 229 9200

Northern Ireland Court Service

Skills for Justice
9 Riverside Court
Don Road
S9 2TJ
Tel: 0114 261 1499

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