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U.S. Marshals Service

U.S. Marshals Service for Students

Judicial Security

The oldest and most important duty of the Marshals Service is to protect everyone involved in judicial business so it is free to resolve disputes fairly.

Some ways the Marshals Service provides safe court surroundings are by:

  • protecting over 2,000 federal judges and other court officials such as prosecutors, witnesses, jurors and public observers
  • making sure over 400 federal courthouses are secure and that each is safe and free of electronic devices that may interfere with judicial proceedings (such as recorders, telephones or cameras)
  • making sure each judicial proceeding is fair by reducing chances to:
  • tamper (try to influence) with evidence (things to prove)
  • intimidate (try to bully)
  • extort (try to force)
  • bribe (try to buy)
  • keeping custody (hold) of prisoners and protecting them during judicial proceedings.


  • survey each building and courtroom to see if either needs more protection
  • screen (check) all court building and courtroom entrances by making sure:
  • Every person walks through a metal detector. A metal detector is a gate like structure that looks for hidden metal objects that could be used as weapons, like guns, knives or sharp objects
  • Every package goes through an x-ray machine. This machine looks through items then takes pictures of objects that could be used to hurt someone or for cameras, telephones and recording devices that are not allowed in courtrooms.
  • watch everyone in the courtroom for disorderly conduct
  • test all security equipment on a regular basis, making sure they work properly
  • train the court staff on how to protect themselves
  • search courtrooms and surrounding areas before each court session for weapons or suspicious persons. After the search, the courtroom is locked until court begins.
  • if persons are suspected of being on drugs or alcohol, turn them over to the local police

COURTROOM SECURITY: Before a criminal case is brought to court, deputy marshals plan how many deputies, guards and equipment will be needed to protect everyone based on the following factors and questions:

  • Charge: is there a serious crime such as murder or terrorism?
  • Defendant: is the person accused of a crime of violence or tried to escape?
  • Number of defendants: is there more than one defendant or is the defendant associated with a dangerous group?
  • Interest in a case: has the public or media showed an interest in the case?

All these factors may suggest possible danger and a need for more security than other cases.


  • provide transportation
  • provide hotel rooms
  • provide meals
  • limit access to TV, newspaper, books, mail and telephone calls
  • arrange for personal or business visits

PERSONAL SECURITY: Sometimes a person is threatened harm for doing their duty to the courts. People making threats may be angry or dangerous and sometimes try to frighten others into making unfair decisions. Deputy marshals protect judges, witnesses or jurors, especially, if someone threatens to harm them. A threat may be delivered by telephone, letter, messenger, e-mail or in person. A threat hints someone or someone in their family may be hurt. The courts want fairness in all its decisions, but a threat might make someone nervous or afraid to make the right decision. The Marshals Service takes all threats very seriously and will protect everyone so no one harms them for doing their duty. If needed, deputies will provide protection 24/7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) until the person is out of danger or the person making the threat is apprehended (arrested). It is a very serious crime to threaten harm to anyone.

Learn more:

Combating Fear and Restoring Safety in Schools

Inside the Courtroom

Glossary of Legal Terms

Ben Franklin’s Judicial Branch 

Ben Franklin’s Executive Branch is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice