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Author Topic: US Marshals vs FBI jurisdiction  (Read 14428 times)

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US Marshals vs FBI jurisdiction
« on: October 03, 2006, 04:18:13 PM »

 Tuesday, May 15, 2001 10:38 AM

USMS or FBI (7 of 12), Read 37 times
Conf: Police Procedures
From: Jim Doherty (
Date: Tuesday, May 01, 2001 01:10 PM


Re your question below:

>Jim, you've probably answered
>this previously, but I've been
>in and out sporadically,
>lately. What factors cause the
>FBI working a case and U.S.
>Marshall's dept., as in THE

Until fairly recently, the US Marshals Service, at least since the 1930s, was largely concerned with court security, prisoner transport, and process serving. They were the federal government's bailiffs.

Around the '80s they got a lot of the jurisdiction for fugitive cases that had previously been handled by the FBI, including escaped federal prisoners, drug fugitives, and interstate fugitives who were wanted for certain kinds of crimes (which I'll get to shortly). Because they were became "fugitive specialists," they were often placed on state-wide fugitive task forces at the request of local or state agencies. In the film version of *The Fugitive*, Tommy Lee Jones's version of the Gerard character is called in at the request of the state governor. Gerard is acting less in his role as a federal agent than in his role as a member of the state's fugitive task force. That's why he could become involved even though Kimble had not yet crossed a state line.

This was not well-explained in the movie, by the way. Apparently, according to the technical advisor who I talked to when we were working together on a matter that concerned both our agencies (actually, I was working under him, WAY under, I don't want to give the impression that we were co-equal participants), the part of the film in which Gerard explains in detail why he can take over a state case was left on the cutting room floor.

One of the things that always struck me as funny, comparing the film to the original TV series, was that in the series, Kimble was crossing state lines all the time, yet it was Gerard, a local cop from a fairly small town in Indiana, who chased him no matter where he went. In the film, even though Kimble never leaves Illinois, he's got the whole federal government on his case in the form of Gerard, who's promoted to deputy US marshal for the big screen.

When the USMS took over the bulk of fugitive cases, the FBI retained jurisdiction over certain kinds of fugitives. If the crime for which the fugitive was crossing state lines to avoid prosecution was murder, arson, burglary, assault, robbery, kidnapping, extortion, or rape, it's still an FBI case. The mnenomic by which agent trainees at Quantico remember which cases are still there's are the letters in the name of one of the Bureau's most famous Depression-era foes, MA BARKER

Bob Mueller
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