Courthouses serve important purposes in the city, county, state, or district boundary that they serve. They exist to help maintain the order and peace in society. They also serve as places where people can pursue legal action of their own.
The type of action pursued at a courthouse depends on the court’s function and role in the public. For example, it is not uncommon to have people getting married at the courthouse instead of at a church or other nuptial venue. A courthouse marriage ceremony costs less money and is faster and more convenient, which appeals to many people who want to avoid the expense and hassle of a church ceremony.
Courthouses also exist to hear cases that influence the safety and integrity of society. It is typical for judges to preside over rape, kidnapping, assault, and other criminal trials. They also may preside over civil cases involving code or housing violations, environmental disputes, small claims lawsuits, fraud cases, or other legal actions that permit victims to pursue justice and compensation.
Most courthouses are only open during regular business hours throughout the week. They often do not open earlier than 8:00 in the morning and close no later than 5:00 at night. They rarely are open on the weekends except to take care of administrative tasks.
A variety of staff work in American courthouses. Judges can either be elected or appointed by the state governor or president. Elected judges serve terms spanning six years or longer. Appointed judges serve lifetime commissions.
Courthouse clerks work alongside judges and maintain records and minutes. They are regarded as historians of the courthouses in which they are employed and network closely with higher and lower courts. Other staff members include secretaries, receptionists, bailiffs, security guards or police officers, and janitorial professionals who all maintain the order, safety, and appearance of the courthouses in which they work.