Published on: Friday, November 12, 2021

A case that started with a deputy U.S. marshal refusing to disclose her vaccination status to theĀ federal judge based in South Dakota, which became three criminal contempt case has now been dismissed. Previous coverage available here and here (article available here).

The dispute centered around the Marshal's refusal to disclose their vaccination status. And the judge required everyone in his courtroom to be vaccinated. As a result, the marshals removed several prisoners from the courtroom without the judge's permission. The marshals were then held in contempt. The district court judge appointed a special prosecutor, then recused. The case was then assigned to another district court judge.

The new judge noted that under the new administration's vaccine mandate for federal employees, such a dispute will "soon become a thing of the past."

"This Court concludes the USMS, by directing its employees that they could refuse to state whether they were vaccinated for COVID-19 in a federal courtroom upon inquiry by a federal judge, and by removing prisoners ordered to be present for hearings without informing the presiding judge, acted in a manner unbecoming of the Service."

"Although this Court believes the USMS failed in their duty to handle delicate matters like this with the grace and dignity expected of and normally displayed by the USMS, the question before the Court is not the good or poor judgment of the USMS but whether three members of the USMS must face a criminal trial over this incident. This Court concludes that the criminal contempt citation against the three defendants should be dismissed."

The court added, "the public is best served by the Court and the USMS attempting to resolve their differences through the mechanisms available to them short of contempt proceedings."