– Photo by Michael Tran
By Linda Cuyler
Lesley Boulton is one of 15 female bailiffs in Douglas County District Court.
No Badge for This Bailiff, Just a Button
The Daily Record
From dim-witted Bull Shannon on the ’80s sitcom “Night Court” to Judge Judy’s stoic sidekick, Petri Hawkins-Byrd, TV has forever etched an image of what a bailiff should look like into America’s collective consciousness.
Big man. Big badge. And better yet, a big bald head.
But guess what? It just ain’t true.
And Lesley Boulton, the bailiff in Judge Timothy P. Burns’ courtroom, has all the evidence to prove it.
Stylish and sophisticated in a turquoise dress and black heels, Boulton, 40, promises there’s nary a bald head to be found among any of the bailiffs in Douglas County District Court.
“We have 16 bailiffs, and 15 of us are women,” says the lady with big brown eyes and a generous smile. “There’s only one guy, and he’s tall and thin and has a full head of hair.
“And we definitely don’t wear badges.”
When it comes to order in the court, Boulton emphasizes that county sheriffs handle security.
“I am the enforcer,” she says.
“However, I have a little secret button. So if things get out of hand, I just press the little button.”
According to Boulton, her job duties differ dramatically from what she had expected before joining Judge Burns as his bailiff.
“Basically, we’re not secretaries, we’re not really assistants,” Boulton says, “We’re everything.
“I run the judge’s calendar. I take care of it all. I’m the secretary, the legal secretary, the janitor, the coffee maker, the scheduler. I keep things running smoothly. I arrange transportation. It’s whatever the judge wants.
“I’m the main contact for the jury. I know their names, their numbers. I order lunch.
“We just had the courtroom painted, so I guess I’m the decorator, too.
“It’s interesting. I really enjoy it.
But no matter how good she is at her job – and Lesley Boulton is very good at her job – it doesn’t even begin to paint a picture of who this woman is or of the long, globetrotting road she has traveled.
Born in South Korea when her father was stationed there with the U.S. Army, Boulton also spent two years of her childhood in Costa Rica, while her parents attended Spanish language school there.
“We spent time in Colombia, Ecuador and some of the other countries throughout Central America. All over the Caribbean, really,” she says.
The family later moved to Venezuela, where her folks served as missionaries. It’s also where Boulton became fluent in the language she picked up in Costa Rica and where she grew to love the lifestyle enjoyed in South America.
“I’m not really the product of any one culture,” she says. “I’m a product of both cultures.”
To add even more luster to her multi-cultural experience, Boulton then attended high school at the Christiansen Academy, a U.S. accredited, international boarding school.
“It was in the Andes on the border of Venezuela and Colombia,” she says.
“There were all kinds of missionary kids there from all over. And there were a lot of embassy people, too.
“Most of the classes had ten to 15 people, but mine was one of the smaller ones. We only had eight in my graduating class in 1990.
“The school closed about five years ago because of all the political unrest.”
After high school, Boulton got her first taste of living in the United States when she arrived in Bolivar, Mo., to attend Southwest Baptist University. “It was a lot of culture shock,” she says.
“I had a circle of two or three friends, who were also missionary kids.
“One gal came from Argentina, and we became best friends. We met in boot camp, which was set up by the international missionary board to help kids get ready for college.
Apparently, her culture shock wore off because Boulton earned a B.A. in psychology, as well as another B.A. in fine arts.
“I love to paint, and there’s some of my stuff in the courtroom,” she says. “I tend to do a little more on the landscapes, but it’s sort of like whatever comes out.”
A self-proclaimed “happy, morning person,” Boulton exudes a genuine love of life. And she lights up when talking about Steve, her husband of eight years.
“Steve and I ride bikes a lot,” she says. “We love to travel.
“We like going out to Boston or Maine and driving up the east coast to little fishing towns.
“And we love to eat.
“So we ask someone who lives there, ‘Where do you go?’
“They tell us, and then we just go. We have a great time.”
She also has two stepdaughters, Alexandra, a senior in high school, and Amber, who graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in May.
And speaking of family, Boulton takes out her cell phone and screens through her pictures until she finds the photo she’s searching for. “Isn’t he cute?” she says, giggling.
Centered in the frame is a picture of her brand-new, mightily loved, 11-week-old black Labradoodle puppy, Wallace.
Named, naturally, after the fierce and noble Braveheart, Sir William Wallace. The Norma Rae of the 99 percent in medieval Scotland.
“He’s so cute,” Boulton says. “But he really keeps us busy.”
Then it’s back to work for this ‘happy, morning person,’ who takes care of business in Courtroom 2.
“It’s so normal here,” says Boulton. “There are a lot of heartwarming things you see that you wouldn’t expect.
“It’s just fun.”