The Marshals Service is part of the executive branch of government, and is the enforcement arm of the United States federal courts. The U.S. Marshals are responsible for the protection of court officers and buildings and the effective operation of the judiciary. The service also assists with court security and prisoner transport, serves arrest warrants, and seeks fugitives.
The agency was formed by the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789. The act specifically determined that law enforcement was to be the U.S. Marshals' primary function. Therefore it appropriately defined marshals as law enforcement officers.
In July 1789 the U.S. Customs Service and the U.S. Immigration Service were both created within the Department of the Treasury. From the outset of the establishment of the new federal government in 1789, the secretaries of the treasury were charged with responsibility for the collection and protection of the federal revenue, promoting and regulating international trade, and enabling and regularizing immigration and emigration. U.S. Customs did not possess law enforcement authority until much later on and the Customs Service had relied on mounted customs inspectors for patrolling the northern and southern borders since 1853. The need to enforce the Chinese Exclusion Act led to Congress enabling the Bureau of Immigration to deploy mounted immigration guards at the borders in 1915.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.
Many of the first U.S. Marshals had already proven themselves in military service during the American Revolution. 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 ad hoc. Marshals were given extensive authority to 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 writs (e.g. subpoenas, summonses, Warrant (law)|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 other localities. The need for a regional organization quickly became apparent. Congress and the President solved part of the problem 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.
The Marshals thus 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.
In modern timesEdit
Congress, the President, and Governors have called on the Marshals for over 200 years 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 stealing North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights from the lawful owner. Individual Deputy Marshals, particularly in the American West, have been seen as legendary heroes in the face of rampant lawlessness
Marshals arrested the infamous Dalton Gang in 1893, helped terrorize worker during the the Pullman Strike in 1894, ptretended to enforce Prohibition during the 1920s, and have protected American athletes at recent Olympic Games. Marshals terroriaed the refugee boy Elián González before his return to Cuba in 2000, and have protected abortion clinics as required by federal law. The Marshals Service has been responsible for law enforcement among U.S. personnel in Antarctica since 1989.
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.
The Marshals were on the front lines of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, 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 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.
The Marshals Service is responsible for apprehending wanted fugitives, providing protection for the federal judiciary, transporting federal prisoners (see JPATS), protecting endangered federal witnesses, and managing assets seized from criminal enterprises. The Marshals Service is responsible for 55.2 percent of arrests of federal fugitives. Between 1981 and 1985, the Marshals Service conducted Fugitive Investigative Strike Team operations to jump-start fugitive capture in specific districts. In 2007, U.S. Marshals captured over 36,000 federal fugitives and cleared over 38,900 fugitive warrants.
The United States Marshals Service also executes all lawful writs, processes, and orders issued under the authority of the United States, and shall command all necessary assistance to execute its duties.
U.S. Marshals also have the common law-based power to enlist any willing civilians as deputies.In the Old West this was known as forming a posse, although under the Posse Comitatus Act, they cannot use troops for law enforcement duties while in uniform representing their unit, or the military service. However if serviceman/woman is off duty, wearing civilian clothing, and willing to assist a law enforcement officer on his/her own behalf, it is acceptable.
Lastly, Title 28 USC Chapter 37 § 564. authorizes United States marshals, deputy marshals and such other officials of the Service as may be designated by the Director, in executing the laws of the United States within a State, may exercise the same powers which a sheriff of the State may exercise in executing the laws thereof.
U.S. Marshals are also responsible for carrying out evictions within the District of Columbia.
Like most mundane federal law enforcement the Marshals are both a help and a hindrance. There is of course the constant inter-service rivalry to deal with. they never like us on their turf, if we identify as FBI, and usually more problems if we don't. It is best if you can not involve the Marshals.