Byrd started work as a bailiff for the Brooklyn circuit of the New York City Court System. In 1986 he was transferred to the Family Court division in Manhattan. It was in this capacity that Byrd met Judge Judith Sheindlin, who was the Supervising Family Court Judge for Manhattan. In 1989 Hawkins-Byrd obtained a criminal justice degree from John Jay College. A year later, he and his family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in California when he went to work for the United States Marshals Service.
In 1996, when Sheindlin was offered her own TV series, Byrd wrote her a congratulatory letter, saying: "If you ever need a bailiff, I still look good in uniform." Judge Judy called him at home to offer him a role, which he accepted.
To date, Byrd has been with the show for its entire run, making him the longest running court show bailiff in history. His main role on the show consists of: introducing cases (calling the parties forward, swearing the litigants, delivering the case number), delivering materials between the judge and the litigants, dismissing the parties and escorting them out once the case is over. On several occasions, Byrd has had to play a larger role by controlling altercations or preventing potential altercations between the plaintiff(s) and the defendant(s). Despite his limited speaking role and commenting only when addressed by Sheindlin for the most part, Byrd is often seen supplying surly and lackadaisical nonverbal expressions or exclamations. Byrd will tell Sheindlin where she's wrong and is almost always able to provide answers in areas that Sheindlin is unaware of, such as on mathematics, current fads, technology, computer related subjects, etc.
When not filming the Judge Judy series, Byrd works as an event emcee, guest speaker, charity supporter and community activist. He is the national chairman of the O.K. Program, which addresses social issues confronting young African-American males and is on the board of the faith-based youth program, Teen Center USA.
- "Petri Hawkins-Byrd, Chairman of the O.K. Program". O.K. Program. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
- "Judge Judy". Judge Judy. April 20, 2009. CBS and Fox. KCBS-TV Fox television stations.
- Petri Hawkins-Byrd at the Internet Movie Database
- "Petri Hawkins-Byrd". WCHS-TV. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
- Dunteman, Dayna (February 2004). "Petri Hawkins Byrd". Sacramento Magazine. Retrieved 2009-12-10.