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Officers of the Baron's Court


THE BARON

When trying a serious criminal case the baron was generally required to to exercise his authority in person, unless his charter authorised him to appoint depute.

Initially his role was to preside over the court, and decide on the sentence but when the role of suitors diminished he also judged the case - he decided on the facts.


THE BARON-BAILLIE

A baron would often appoint a deputy or baillie to exercise his authority to the extent allowed by his charter or the common law at the time.

He was required to take the judicial oath swearing to uphold the law.


THE CLERK OF COURT

The baron was required to choose a clerk who, it is argued, should be a qualified lawyer.

His role was to record what was said and done in the minute-books of the court and to advise the baron, or his baillie on the law.


THE DEMPSTER

The Dempster or doomster pronounced the sentence (the doom) of the court and latterly carried out the sentence when his office was combined with that of the common hagman.

When carrying out the sentence he repeated the words of the Clerk adding "This I give for doom". [For some reason Private Fraser of the television series Dad's Army springs to mind.]


THE BARON-SERGEANT

The Baron-Sergeant or Baron-Sergeand or even the Baron Officer combined the modern role of court officer with that of a sheriff officer.

As a court officer he was responsible for 'fencing' a court, keeping order in the court and summoning the parties.

As a sheriff officer he would enforce the decrees, such as poinding or seizing a debtor's goods.


THE PROCURATOR FISCAL

If appointed his role was to prosecute criminal complaints much as today.


THE SUITORS

These were vassals and tenants who acted in a similar role to a jury and decided on the facts of the case.


 
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