United States Marshals Service

The United States Marshals Service (USMS) is a United States federal government law enforcement agency within the United States Department of Justice (see ) and is the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the United States. The official spelling is the form "US Marshals Service", not the possessive form "US Marshals' Service".

The USMS is the enforcement arm of the federal courts, protecting federal courts and ensuring the effective operation of the judicial system.


The offices of U.S. Marshals and Deputy Marshals were created by the first Congress in the Judiciary Act of 1789, the same legislation that established the federal judicial system. In a letter to Edmund Randolph, the first Attorney General of the United States, 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' 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 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 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 (see Famous Marshals, below). 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 stiff penalty for 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.

Just as America has changed over the past two centuries, so has its federal justice system – from the original 13 judicial districts, to 94 districts spanning the continent and beyond; and with tens of thousands of federal judges, prosecutors, jurors, witnesses, and defendants involved in the judicial process. The Marshals Service has changed with it, not in its underlying responsibility to enforce the law and execute the orders issued by the court, but in the breadth of its functions, the professionalism of its personnel, and the sophistication of the technologies employed. These changes are made apparent by an examination of the contemporary duties of the modern Marshals Service.

Except for suits by incarcerated persons, non-prisoner litigants proceeding in forma pauperis, or (in some circumstances) by seamen, U.S. Marshals no longer serve process in private civil actions filed in the U.S. district courts. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, process may be served by any U.S. citizen over the age of 18 who is a not a party or an attorney involved in the case.


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. In 2003, U.S. Marshals captured over 34,000 federal fugitives and assisted in the capture of over 27,000 state or local fugitives.

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 soldiers for law enforcement duties.


The United States Marshals Service is based in Arlington, Virginia and, under the authority and direction of the Attorney General, is headed by a Director, who is assisted by a Deputy Director. USMS Headquarters provides command, control and cooperation for the disparate elements of the service.


  • Director of the U.S. Marshals Service – John F. Clark
  • Deputy Director of the U.S. Marshals Service – Brian Beckwith
    • Chief of Staff – Sean Fahey
    • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) – Joann Grady
  • Office of Communications
    • Office of Public Affairs (OPA) – Jeffrey Carter, Chief
    • Office of Congressional Affairs (OCA) – Doug Disrud, Chief
  • Office of General Counsel (OGC) – Gerald M. Auerbach
  • Office of Inspection (OI) – William Snelson
  • Administration Directorate – Chris Dudley, Associate Director
    • Training Division – Marc A. Farmer, Assistant Director
    • Human Resources Division (HRD) – David Anderson, Acting Assistant Director
    • Information Technology Division (ITD) – Joe Briggs, Acting Assistant Director
    • Management Support Division (MSD) – Diane C. Litman, Assistant Director
    • Financial Services Division (FSD) – Edward Dolan, Assistant Director
    • Asset Forfeiture Division (AFD) – Michael A. Pearson, Assistant Director
  • Operations Directorate – Robert J. Finan II, Associate Director
    • Judicial Security Division (JSD) – Donald Donovan, Acting Assistant Director
    • Investigative Operations Division (IOD) – Mike Earp, Acting Assistant Director
    • Witness Security Division (WSD) – Sylvester E. Jones, Assistant Director
    • Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS) – Scott C. Rolstad, Assistant Director
    • Tactical Operations Division (TOD) – David Roberston, Acting Assistant Director
    • Prisoner Operations Division (POD) – Candra S. Symonds, Assistant Director


The U.S. court system is divided into 94 Districts, each with a U.S. Marshal, a Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal (GS-15) (and an Assistant Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal (GS-14) in certain larger districts), Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshals (GS-13) , and as many Deputy U.S. Marshals (GS-5 and above) and Special Deputy U.S. Marshals as needed. In the US federal budget for 2005, funds for 3,067 deputy marshals and criminal investigators were provided. The US Marshal of a US Circuit Court is the US Marshal in whose district that court is located.

The Director and each United States Marshal is appointed by the President of the United States and subject to confirmation by the United States Senate. The District U.S. Marshal is traditionally appointed from a list of qualified law enforcement personnel for that district or state. Each state has at least one district, while several larger states have three or more.

Deputy U.S. Marshals

OPM Classification

Deputy U.S. Marshals are classified General Schedule (GS) 1811 Criminal Investigators, or a basic 082 Deputy Marshals. Deputy U.S. Marshals start their careers in a 3-year Deputy Development Program at either a GS-5 or GS-7 pay grade. After 1 year in grade they are promoted to GS-7 or GS-9. After another year, those at the GS-7 level are entitled to GS-9, while those at GS-9 move onto GS-9 Step 2. After completion of the Deputy Development Program, DUSM's reach GS-11. The paygrade ranks similar to that of a senior Police Sergeant or a Police Lieutenant. Criminal Investigators receive an additional 25% LEAP pay on top of their base pay, and will progress to the grade of GS-12 (approx. Police Captain or Police Deputy Chief). Automatic progression to the grade of GS-13 is in the works, and is hopeful for career Deputy U.S. Marshals in the near future.

There is no longer a disparity between job classifications within the United States Marshal Service. As of February 2007, all Deputy US Marshal new hires receive Criminal Investigator Training and Basic Deputy US Marshal training. However, until all previously hired 082's are trained and converted to 1811 Criminal Investigators, new hires are still classified as 082s. Full conversion of all 082's to 1811's is not expected until Fiscal Year 2010.

When DUSM's aren't out making street arrests, they can be found protecting government officials, seizing assets of major crime rings, relocating and providing new identities for witnesses in the federal witness protection program which is headed by the USMS. Through the Adam Walsh Act, the U.S. Marshals Service was chosen to head up the new federal sex offender tracking and prosecution hot team. Deputy U.S. Marshals make more street arrests than all other federal law enforcement agencies combined.

Special Deputy U.S. Marshals

The Director of the Marshals Service is authorized by (authorizing Director of Marshals Service to appoint "such employees as are necessary to carry out the powers and duties of the Service") to deputize the following individuals to perform the functions of Deputy Marshals: selected officers or employees of the Department of Justice; federal, state or local law enforcement officers; private security personnel to provide courtroom security for the Federal judiciary; and other persons designated by the Associate Attorney General". The first local law enforcement officer to be deputized was Officer William Shields of the Haverford Township Police department.

Court Security Officers

Court Security Officers, are contracted former law enforcement officers who receive limited deputations as armed special deputy marshals and play a vital role in courthouse security. Using security screening systems, CSOs detect and intercept weapons and other prohibited items that individuals attempt to bring into federal courthouses. There are more than 4,700 CSOs with certified law enforcement experience are deployed at more than 400 court facilities in the United States and its territories.

Detention Enforcement Officer

DEO's (1802's) are responsible for the care of prisoners in USMS custody. They are responsible for maintaining and securing federal prisoners while in USMS custody. They also provide courtroom and cell block security. Not all USMS offices employee DEO's.

Line of duty deaths

More than 200 U.S. marshals, deputy marshals, and special deputy marshals have been slain in the line of duty since Marshal Robert Forsyth was shot dead by an intended recipient of court papers in Augusta, Georgia on January 11, 1794. He was the first US Government Law Officer killed in the line of duty and the third policeman killed since the 1789 founding of the American Republic—the first being Constable Darius Quimby in 1791. The dead are remembered on an Honor Roll permanently displayed at Headquarters.

Famous Marshals

Some famous or otherwise noteworthy U.S. Marshals include:

Fictional U.S. Marshals

Fugitive programs

15 Most Wanted

The Marshals Service publicizes the names of wanted persons it places on the list of U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted Fugitives, which is similar to and sometimes overlapping the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Most Wanted List, depending on jurisdiction.

(15 Most wanted website) The 15 Most Wanted Fugitive Program was established in 1983 in an effort to prioritize the investigation and apprehension of high-profile offenders who are considered to be some of the country’s most dangerous fugitives. These offenders tend to be career criminals with histories of violence or whose instant offense(s) pose a significant threat to public safety. Current and past fugitives in this program include murderers, sex offenders, major drug kingpins, organized crime figures, and individuals wanted for high-profile financial crimes.

Major cases

The Major Case Fugitive Program was established in 1985 in an effort to supplement the successful 15 Most Wanted Fugitive Program. Much like the 15 Most Wanted Fugitive Program, the Major Case Fugitive Program prioritizes the investigation and apprehension of high-profile offenders who are considered to be some of the country’s most dangerous individuals. All escapes from custody are automatically elevated to Major Case status.

See also


External links

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