Appointment and Qualifications of U.S. Marshals

GAO-03-499R Published: Apr 02, 2003. Publicly Released: Apr 02, 2003.
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The U.S. Marshal Service was created by the first Congress in the Judiciary Act of 1789. U.S. Marshals were placed in each federal judicial district and were given broad authority to support the federal courts and to carry out all lawful orders issued by judges, Congress, and the President. Early duties of U.S. Marshals included taking the census, distributing presidential proclamations, protecting the borders, and making arrests. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, some responsibilities of U.S. Marshals were transferred to newly created federal agencies, including the U.S. Census Bureau, Immigration and Naturalization Service, and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Today, the primary responsibilities of U.S. Marshals include protecting federal judges and witnesses, transporting federal prisoners, apprehending federal fugitives, and managing assets seized from criminal enterprises. We obtained information on the (1) U.S. Marshals' appointment process and, for comparison, the processes used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF); Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) to select senior field supervisors; (2) experience, education and diversity of U.S. Marshalls and senior field supervisors at the ATF, DEA, and IRS-CI; (3) authority of the Director of the U.S. Marshalls Service (USMS) to guide and control activities of U.S. Marshalls; and (4) past legislative and other proposals for reforming the U.S. Marshals' appointment process.

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