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The first bailiffs date back to medieval England. Bailiffs in this time period were either in charge of managing a manor or managing a court. Bailiffs who worked for manors or estates had the responsibility of collecting fines and rent as well as supervising the activities on the grounds. Court bailiffs helped the judges during the two sessions of the Royal Court that were held every year. The early predecessor of the modern bailiff had police authority to protect the court and serve legal papers as well.

In America, the constable performed many of the duties that now fall on the bailiff 's shoulders. Along with the more pressing duty of keeping the peace, the constable attended to the courts and was responsible for taking care of jury members.

Today, a bailiff is considered an officer of the court who has the authority to serve legal papers and confiscate property. Like the medieval bailiff and the American constable, modern bailiffs are responsible for attending to the needs of the court while it is in session and out of session.

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