KN, p. 168 “How do you become a US Marshal?”



In the last post, “What does a U.S. Marshal do?” I listed quite a few of the duties that occupy the days of U.S. Marshals working in the various sections of the U.S. Marshal Service.


Part 2 of the series deals with qualifications needed to become a member of the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the United States.


First and foremost, potential candidates must be U.S. citizens and must be between the ages of 21 and 36. There are exceptions to the upper limit, but they are addressed at the time of application.


Before attending academy training, candidates must:


  • Have a bachelor’s degree, plus a year of grad school, preferably in an area of criminal justice – with at least a B average in all coursework.
  • Pass a background check – assume that it will be thorough
  • Complete interviews and various screenings – assume they will be intense
  • Be in top physical shape – not just a gym rat
  • Have at least normal vision and hearing
  • Pass the Fitness Test – see below and decide whether you could qualify to be part of the next Academy class


Minimum Fitness Standards for Men (30-39) in order to pass:


Complete 27 pushups, followed by 36 sit-ups, immediately followed by a 1.5 mile run in less than 13 minutes.

The Superior level is pegged at 51 pushups, 50 sit-ups and that same 1.5 mile completed in less than 9 minutes.


Minimum Fitness Standards for Women (30-39) in order to pass:


Complete 14 pushups, followed by 27 sit-ups, with the 1.5 miles finished in less than 16 minutes.

Reaching the Superior level requires more than 22 pushups, more than 41 sit-ups and the 1.5 mile run to be completed in less than 12 minutes.


The other age charts don’t differ all that much. Let’s face it, if 2-3 pushups more or less would make the difference in your candidacy, you probably aren’t ready yet.

If you are at the minimums when passing the Fitness Test, keep in mind that as an overall candidate, the other parts of your resume will need to be much stronger than at the minimum.


Why is it necessary to be in such good shape? The U.S. Marshals in charge of transporting prisoners or apprehending fugitives will need to work in all kinds of extreme weather conditions. The USA has both Alaska and Florida within its borders, with snowstorms, hurricanes, freezing temps as well as sweltering heat to contend with. At times, Marshals may have to wear Kevlar vests in the heat or resist an assault or run for blocks or be in confined spaces with dangerous criminals…you get the idea.



You’ve passed the initial screening and now it’s time for you to:


  • Pass the 21 ½ week basic training program at the United States Marshals Service Training Academy.


United States Marshals Service Basic Training Academy is conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), in Glynco, GA. The training is tough and since it is experienced in the intense heat and humidity of the world that is Georgia (USA), potential candidates are warned that top physical condition means just that. To prepare for the intensity of the Academy training, potential candidates are warned to start hydrating weeks before setting one foot at the Center. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, just to stay alive in the brutal summers of the South – forget about all the intense 1 to 10 mile runs combined with workouts, climbing, obstacle courses, and sprints that are coming at unscheduled times during training.


Some of the subjects covered during training include:

  • Building entry and search
  • Computer training
  • Court security
  • Defensive tactics
  • Driver training
  • Firearms training
  • High profile trials
  • Officer survival
  • Physical conditioning
  • Prisoner search and restraint
  • Search and seizure
  • Surveillance


There are seven exams given during the 21+ weeks. Each test must be passed with a score of at least 70%. There are additional practical exams scored with a pass/fail.


The subjects covered during training are necessary knowledge that a U.S. Marshal must internalize in order to do his/her job well. Lives depend on doing that job well.

Post Academy

 After successfully completing the training program and getting out into the field, U.S. Marshals are required to attend annual training sessions to maintain proficiency in certain areas or to learn new forensic techniques available.


Every six months, re-qualification is required for primary and off-duty handguns, rifles, shotguns, and perhaps submachine or semi-automatic guns if needed.


Once a year, re-qualification is required for batons and stunguns, as well as other non-lethal devices.


After seven years, the Deputy U.S. Marshals attend an advanced basic training session.


Think the training and ongoing retraining is something you could handle? From all reports, the job is an interesting one most of the time. There are reports to file, stake-outs to sit through and occasional boring parts of the work, but although sometimes dangerous, the job of a US Marshal is  essential to keep our court and judicial system running smoothly.


For more information, please visit www.usmarshals.gov

Photo credits:

Collage of badges edited from the US Marshal website
Middle and bottom badge photos – Wikipedia




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KN, p. 167 “What does a U.S. Marshal do?”




The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) has been around for over 225 years, created by the first Congress to protect/serve the federal courts and make sure the orders of the President, Congress, and Judges were carried out across the United States. It is the country’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.


I never thought of US Marshals as census takers, but up until 1870 they did that in addition to arresting fugitives and serving subpoenas. Over the years they have also been asked by Congress and the President to capture fugitive slaves, swap spies with the Soviet Union, chase the bad guys, control riots – the basic idea being to help the government run more smoothly when nobody else has been quite qualified to do the job across State lines.


An interesting aspect of their history is that at first, US Marshals answered to the Secretary of State. In 1861, they fell under the Attorney General’s office and then in 1961, became an entity of their own with a Chief Marshal in charge. It has always been the enforcement arm of the federal courts and operates within the Department of Justice.


The 94 US Marshals are appointed by the President and handle the enforcement duties for the 94 federal court districts and the 12 circuits of the US Court of Appeals. They employ over 5,200 deputy Marshals, criminal investigators, administrative employees, and detention enforcement officers. They are in charge of:


  • Judicial Security
  • Fugitive Operations
  • Asset Forfeiture
  • Prisoner Transportation
  • Witness Security




Judicial Security


Since the federal courts preside over cases that involve terrorists groups, organized crime, and other presumed seriously dangerous defendants as well as high profile extortion/fraud cases, the judges, lawyers, and even litigants involved are sometimes the target of violence.


It’s the job of the US Marshal Service to prevent the violence and also to protect the public, witnesses, jurors, prisoners, and innocent bystanders.


In addition, the USMS:


  • Coordinates security for judicial conferences.
  • Protects Supreme Court justices and the deputy Attorney General outside of Washington.
  • Provides support to the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service with protective details for foreign officials while the U.N. is in session.
  • Manages the security services that provide court security officers who screen visitors at building entrances.
  • Provides information to federal, state, local, and international law enforcement partners about judicial security, including threat assessment and training.



Fugitive Operations


In 2015, the USMS arrested over 99,000 fugitives.

They cleared over 119,000 warrants.



Asset Forfeiture


The Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program seeks to disrupt criminal actions by taking away the means of doing business, while returning property to its rightful owners.


The U.S. Marshals Service helps identify and evaluate the proceeds of crime. They manage and sometimes auction off items as varied as real estate, businesses, cars, jewelry, art, antiques, boats, and planes.


Proceeds from the sales go to operate the program, reimburse victims, and fund various law enforcement operations.


Some of the other agencies that participate in the Asset Forfeiture Program are: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; FBI; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Food and Drug Administration; Department of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General.



Prisoner Transportation


In 2015, over 261,000 prisoners were transported by air and on land by the USMS.


The U.S. Marshals’ Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System handles over 700 cases a day between judicial districts and correctional institutions in the U.S., for the purpose of getting witnesses to trial or prisoners to jail.


JPATS has its own fleet of aircraft to move prisoners over long distances and is the only government-operated, regularly-scheduled passenger airline in the USA. Both military and civilian law enforcement agencies can use the planes for their prisoner transport – if space is available and only if the USMS is reimbursed.



Witness Security


The U.S. Marshals Service operates the federal Witness Security Program, sometimes called the Witness Protection Program, or WitSec.


Its primary role is to protect government witnesses and their immediate family members (sometimes innocent bystanders and sometimes criminals themselves) whose lives are in danger because of their cooperation in investigations and trials.



For more information about the US Marshal Service, visit www.usmarshals.gov



Future posts will discuss:


  • Qualifications and training needed to become a US Marshal
  • WitSec



*Photo credit: Wikipedia



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KN, p. 165 “What does a lawyer really do?



Ah, the joys of being a TV/movie lawyer. The lawyers wear nice clothes, have offices with great addresses and those fab coffee carts right in front of the office building always have the best bagels and croissants. The TV lawyers get hired with big bonuses at huge law firms even before they finish law school. The cases are always interesting and there’s a large, steady paycheck coming in. Only the lousy lawyers get the so-so cases and the associates do the investigating while writing all the briefs.


Hmmm…maybe not.


In reality, the average beginning lawyer is not wealthy and unless associated with a law firm before graduation (during an internship) will take a few years to get established or have the luxury of being choosy about cases and/or clients.


It differs across the country and whether located in large or small towns, but lawyers can have a variety of specialties. In general, a lawyer advises the client about the legal options available and sometimes represents them in court. They conduct research for the particular case, prepare presentations for court or business meetings, and represent individuals or businesses or organizations. Some lawyers never see the inside of a courtroom, but instead, spend their days writing and filing briefs and contracts.


A lawyer can use the degree as a path to become a judge, to teach in law school, to become a law enforcement officer, or even to become a politician. Some specialties that require special certification include child welfare, real estate, estate planning, elder law, tax law, among several others.


TV lawyers are typically criminal defense attorneys or else they handle high dollar mergers and acquisitions. After all, the real estate contracts that every real-life homeowner in the country has to have, hardly makes for exciting TV. We, as the viewing audience, would rather watch a show about something more fun than deeds and mortgages.



What Does a Criminal Prosecutor Do?

A Criminal Prosecutor is a lawyer that works for a State or Federal authority – sometimes elected, sometimes appointed. His/her job is to bring a case against an accused person in a criminal trial and to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In the United States justice system, a criminal defendant is always considered to be innocent until proven guilty. Law enforcement officers gather the evidence and work with prosecutors to put the bad guys away.


Some of the duties of a criminal prosecutor may include:

  • Deciding whether or not to file criminal charges against a suspect
  • Research the facts/information of a case to see if the evidence will support a win, and therefore the expense of a trial
  • Deciding whether or not to conduct plea bargains with opposing attorneys
  • Interviewing witnesses and reviewing their testimonies
  • Presenting evidence to the jury

What Is a Criminal Defense Attorney?

A Criminal Defense Attorney gives legal advice and defends criminal defendants during trial. If a criminal defendant can’t afford a lawyer, the state will provide a public defender. Many criminal defense attorneys work at private criminal defense firms and charge several hundred dollars an hour. 


A criminal defense lawyer frequently offers legal services even before criminal charges have been formally filed against the suspect, by sitting in on (and giving advice during) interrogations by the police or other legal entities. In the United States legal system, a suspect is allowed to ask for an attorney to be present at all questioning sessions, bail hearings, plea bargaining, etc.


Criminal defense attorneys perform these tasks:

  • Assist suspects who have requested the presence of a lawyer during police interrogations
  • Assist clients during the pre-trial period
  • Engage in plea negotiations with the prosecutor, to obtain a reduced sentence or to have the charges dropped
  • Research the facts and laws involved in the criminal case
  • Defend clients during trial
  • Interview key witnesses to obtain testimony
  • File for an appeal or retrial if available
  • Assist with parole issues



If you like the idea of becoming a criminal lawyer, you’ll need:

  • a great eye for detail
  • to write clearly and concisely
  • to speak persuasively to strangers (the jury)
  • to have great investigative skills
  • excellent grades (3.5/B+ or better) in undergrad school
  • $75-250K for three years of law school in addition to your undergrad degree costs


Lawyers in all areas of the private and public sectors have exactly the same list of needs. Still interested? Go for it!


*Photo credit:

Lady Justice, LOUIS J. LEFKOWITZ BUILDING, New York County, NY




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