Lehigh County and Northampton County have two tipstaffs for each judges, although Lehigh calls half of these "court criers." In Northampton County, salaries ranges between $19,425 and $28,245.
In both counties, full benefits are paid.
During Bloody Mary's reign, a tipstaff was shoved into the mouth of a religious dissident to prevent him from speaking before he was burned at the stake. Now I could see why Henry VIII needed them, but now that we've stopped throwing people in the Tower, aren't they a bit anachronistic?
True, a tipstaff can hunt down a lawyer while a judge is busy, but can't a deputy sheriff do that just as effectively or better? Frankly, I've long felt these are unnecessary appendages, and these court officers often detract from judicial decorum. I've seen them shove lawyers and, a few years ago, they regularly stole newspapers from the law library.
If Northampton County were to eliminate these patronage jobs, it is conservatively estimated that the savings would be $600,000 per year. Lehigh County could save slightly more.
Now it may very well be that these are indispensable court officers and the world as we know it might come to an end if we did away with them. But I also believe it is time to ask judges to justify what certainly seems like a perk. For too long, people have been afraid to question judges. That's how you end up with the cronyism and corruption recently discovered in Luzerne County.