United States Marshals Service

United States Marshals Service
December 24 15:05 2010 Print This Article

The United States Marshals Service (USMS) is a United States federal law enforcement agency within the United States Department of Justice. Although the Marshals Service itself dates only to 1969, the office of U.S. Marshal is the oldest federal law enforcement office in the United States.

The Marshals Service is part of the executive branch of government, the Marshals Service is the enforcement arm of the United States federal courts, and is responsible for the protection of court officers and buildings, and the effective operation of the judiciary. The service assists with court security and prisoner transport, serves arrest warrants, and seeks fugitives.

The U.S. Marshals Service is the oldest law enforcement agency of the federal government in the United States. The Marshals Service itself, as a federal agency, was not created until 1969. It succeeded the Executive Office for United States Marshals, itself created in 1965 as “the first organization to supervise U.S. Marshals nationwide.”

However, the office of U.S. Marshal for each judicial district is much older, as old as the federal courts themselves. The office was created by the first U.S. Congress in the Judiciary Act of 1789. Although the Act did not say that the U.S. Marshal was a “law enforcement officer” or a “peace officer,” the Act did specify that the U.S. Marshal’s primary duty was to execute “all lawful precepts directed to him, and issued under the authority of the United States.” The U.S. Marshal for the district served a term of four years but could be removed at pleasure and had the power to appoint deputies, who could be removed by the federal court they served. The U.S. Marshal could also “command all necessary assistance in the execution of his duty.”

In a letter to Edmund Randolph, the first United States Attorney General, President George Washington wrote,
Impressed with a conviction that the due administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good Government, I have considered the first arrangement of the Judicial department as essential to the happiness of our Country, and to the stability of its political system; hence the selection of the fittest characters to expound the law, and dispense justice, has been an invariable object of my anxious concern.

Many of the first U.S. Marshals had already proven themselves in military service during the American Revolution. Among the first marshals were John Adams’s son-in-law Congressman William Stephens Smith for the district of New York, another New York district Marshal, Congressman Thomas Morris and Henry Dearborn for the district of Maine.

From the earliest days of the nation, Marshals were permitted to recruit Special Deputies as local hires or as temporary transfers to the Marshals Service from other federal law enforcement agencies. Marshals were also authorized to swear in a posse to assist them in manhunts and other duties on an ad hoc basis. Marshals were given extensive authority to

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support the federal courts within their judicial districts, and to carry out all lawful orders issued by federal judges, Congress, or the President.

The Marshals and their Deputies served subpoenas, summonses, writs, warrants, and other process issued by the courts, made all the arrests, and handled all federal prisoners. They also disbursed funds as ordered by the courts. Marshals paid the fees and expenses of the court clerks, U.S. Attorneys, jurors, and witnesses. They rented the courtrooms and jail space and hired the bailiffs, criers, and janitors. They made sure the prisoners were present, the jurors were available, and that the witnesses were on time.

When Washington set up his first administration and the first Congress began passing laws, both quickly discovered an inconvenient gap in the constitutional design of the government: It had no provision for a regional administrative structure stretching throughout the country. Both the Congress and the executive branch were housed at the national capital; no agency was established or designated to represent the federal government’s interests at the local level. The need for a regional organization quickly became apparent. Congress and the President solved part of the problem

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by creating specialized agencies, such as customs and revenue collectors, to levy tariffs and taxes, yet there were numerous other jobs that needed to be done. The only officers available to do them were the Marshals and their Deputies.

Thus, the Marshals also provided local representation for the federal government within their districts. They took the national census every decade through 1870. They distributed Presidential proclamations, collected a variety of statistical information on commerce and manufacturing, supplied the names of government employees for the national register, and performed other routine tasks needed for the central government to function effectively. Over the past 200 years, Congress, the President and Governors have also called on the Marshals to carry out unusual or extraordinary missions, such as registering enemy aliens in time of war, sealing the American border against armed expeditions from foreign countries, and at times during the Cold War, swapping spies with the Soviet Union, and also retrieving North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights.

Particularly in the American West, individual Deputy Marshals have been seen as legendary heroes in the face of rampant lawlessness. Marshals arrested the infamous Dalton Gang in 1893, helped suppress the Pullman Strike in 1894, enforced Prohibition during the 1920s, and have protected American athletes at recent

Olympic Games. Marshals protected the refugee boy Elián González before his return to Cuba in 2000, and have protected abortion clinics as required by Federal law. Since 1989, the Marshals Service has been responsible for law enforcement among U.S. personnel in Antarctica, although they are not routinely assigned there.

One of the more onerous jobs the Marshals were tasked with was the recovery of fugitive slaves, as required by the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. They were also permitted to form a posse and to deputize any person in any community to aid in the recapture of fugitive slaves. Failure to cooperate with a Marshal resulted in a $5000 fine and imprisonment, a significant penalty in those days. The Oberlin-Wellington Rescue was a celebrated fugitive-slave case involving U.S. marshals. James Batchelder was the second marshal killed in the line of duty. Batchelder, along with others, was preventing the rescue of fugitive slave Anthony Burns in Boston in 1854.

In the 1960s the Marshals were on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement, mainly providing protection to volunteers. In September 1962, President John F. Kennedy ordered 127 marshals to accompany James Meredith, an African American who wished to register at the segregated University of Mississippi. Their presence on campus provoked riots at the university, requiring President Kennedy to federalize the Mississippi National Guard to pacify the crowd, but the marshals stood their ground, and Meredith successfully registered. Marshals provided continuous protection to Meredith during his first year at “Ole Miss,” and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy later proudly displayed a marshal’s dented helmet in his office. U.S. Marshals also protected black schoolchildren integrating public schools in the South. Artist Norman Rockwell’s famous painting “The Problem We All Live With” depicted a tiny Ruby Bridges being escorted by four towering U.S. marshals in 1964.

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  1. Jennifer Cole
    December 02, 19:52 #1 Jennifer Cole

    This shot above by US Marshal Service (two Marshals with criminal between), is being used by a man saying this is him, the Marshal on the right. He said his name was Mike Ryder, and I have found this to not be true. I do have this man’s phone number, but that’s all. It was a real estate related question he had, but continued to converse with me over a month. Thought you would want to know. He sent me this picture, saying it was him. I was stupid, never checked images on google, but here it is. I’m sure he is out there impersonating this Marshal to other women, as well.

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