Call in the Federal Marshals?

By Sandy Long

Back when I traveled with carnivals, we would all get laughs from sending some pesky town kid, 10-12 years old, on wild goose chases to find things like left handed screw drivers, paint that went down in a checkerboard pattern and the key to open the midway.
We of course would give them a dime for a coke when they came back despondent at not being able to find the illusive item.
If you have been trucking any time at all, it is most likely that some coffee counter cowboy will tell you to call the Federal Marshals if you have trouble anywhere, anytime while on the road.  You will also probably hear at least one story about how the Federal Marshals came to the rescue and arrested a DOT officer, shipping/receiving clerk, or anyone else who was giving the poor story teller a hard time.  
A driver not long ago told me a story about how a friend of his that was a Federal Marshal asked the driver to take him into a grocery warehouse so he could see first hand the abuse a driver was subjected to.  Of course, the Marshal arrested the dock foreman, the receiving clerk and the warehouse owner…in the story at least.  It is his story and he is sticking to it.  Like the checkerboard paint, the advice and story is a myth.
Federal Marshals are part of the federal government and were established in 1789 to enforce federal law.  They were a big part of the old west, remember Matt Dillon?  Also, they were implemental in organizing posses, apprehending escaped slaves before the Civil War and enforcing civil rights laws after it.  Until 1896 Marshals received a fee for everything they did such as serving a warrant, apprehending a criminal or protecting a federal judge, they started receiving a regular salary in 1896.
Ninety-four U.S. marshals, appointed by the president or the U.S. attorney general, direct the activities of 94 district offices and personnel stationed at more than 350 locations throughout the 50 states, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Each district, and the District of Columbia Superior Court, is headed by a U.S. marshal. The Marshals Service’s headquarters are located in the Washington, D.C. area. (all italics from the Federal Marshal website)
Primary duties include protection of the judicial system.  This goes as far to overseeing the new construction of court houses and judicial office buildings to make sure security is of the highest possible.  The Marshals are also in charge of the witness protection programs, protecting lawyers and witnesses along with the judges.  Apprehending national and international federal felons is also a big part of their jobs, clearing 39,000 federal felony warrants last year.
Along with the above, the Marshals are responsible for transportation of convicts and prisoners:  In 1995, the air fleets of the Marshals Service and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) merged to create the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS). The merger created a more efficient and effective system for transporting prisoners and criminal aliens. Operated by the Marshals Service, JPATS is one of the largest transporters of prisoners in the world, handling more than 1,000 requests every day to move prisoners between judicial districts, correctional institutions and foreign countries. On average, nearly 3000,000 prisoner and alien movements a year are completed by JPATS via coordinated air and ground systems
Finally, The Marshals Service is responsible for managing and disposing seized and forfeited properties acquired by criminals through illegal activities. Under the auspices of the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program, the Marshals Service currently manages more than $964 million worth of property, and it promptly disposes of assets seized by all Department of Justice agencies.
As the above shows, Federal Marshals have nothing to do with trucking unless a federal law such as drug or illegal alien smuggling is involved.  I would suppose though if a federal judge issued a federal violations warrant, the Marshals would serve it, but the day to day life of a driver isn’t the focus of the Federal Marshals, or for that matter, on the peripheral edge for them.
The next time you hear a trucker suggest you call the Federal Marshals to come fix some problem you are having, you can now look at them and smile knowing that they have either fallen for someone else’s story telling or are sending you looking for checkerboard paint.
Ya’ll be safe out there!