‘Outrageous’: Judge accuses US marshals of ‘kidnapping’ defendants after coronavirus vaccine standoff
A judge's gavel (Shutterstock)

On Monday, The Washington Post reported that a federal judge in South Dakota is accusing members of the U.S. marshals Service of "kidnapping" after an incident that stemmed from the marshals refusal to disclose whether marshals had been vaccinated for COVID-19.

"U.S. District Judge Charles Kornmann, who sits in Aberdeen, tore into the U.S. Marshals Service for nearly an hour over their reaction to his decision at a hearing last month to question the deputy marshal in attendance about whether she had been vaccinated," reported Devlin Barrett. "The deputy marshal, according to the judge, refused to answer the question, at which point he ordered her out of his courtroom. The marshals, in turn, took three of the defendants scheduled for hearings that day out of the courthouse. That infuriated the judge, who describes that act as a 'kidnapping' that obstructed the work of the court."

"This was such an outrageous thing to do," said Kornmann at a hearing on Monday. "Nothing like this that we could find has ever been done in this country. If it is the marshals' position that they can override court orders, they are badly mistaken." D.C. U.S. Marshals Service Chief of Staff John Kilgallon, South Dakota Marshal Daniel Mosteller, and Chief Deputy Stephen Houghtaling have all been charged with contempt.

According to Barrett, Kilgallon told Kornmann that USMS does not know which of its employees have been vaccinated or not — but according to other sources close to the USMS, this is not true, and the agency required marshals to fill out a form with their vaccination status, with some even uploading images of their vaccination cards to a federal database.

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