ALM Properties, Inc.
Page printed from: http://www.law.com
Select 'Print' in your browser menu to print this document.
Mukasey's Allies Rally Around Him in Wake of Marshals' ComplaintsA federal complaint against two federal judges -- one of whom could be the next attorney general -- describes U.S. marshals being ordered to empty the trash, carry groceries and tote golf clubs as part of their duties on protective security details. Allies of AG nominee Michael B. Mukasey have been quick to rally around the retired New York jurist. Nonetheless, Mukasey's security detail was shut down in 2005 shortly after deputy marshals filed the grievance against him, another judge and their wives.
2007-09-26 12:00:00 AM
They were there for protection. Instead, the marshals say they were treated like servants.
A federal complaint against two federal judges -- one of whom could be the next attorney general -- describes U.S. marshals being ordered to empty the trash, carry groceries and tote golf clubs as part of their duties on protective security details.
Allies of attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey note the retired New York jurist doesn't even play golf. But the U.S. Marshals Service nonetheless shut down his security detail in 2005 shortly after deputy marshals filed an employee grievance accusing him, another judge and their wives of tasking them with valet-like chores.
If confirmed as the nation's 81st attorney general, Mukasey would oversee the U.S. Marshals Service.
White House spokesman Tony Fratto on Tuesday said Mukasey "would never ask anyone to do anything inappropriate in any way."
"Judge Mukasey has never treated anyone with anything less than respect," Fratto said.
The complaint filed on behalf of nearly three dozen deputy marshals who were assigned to protect Mukasey and federal Judge Kevin Thomas Duffy paints a different picture.
Filed with the U.S. Marshals Service headquarters in Washington, the complaint claims deputies weren't allowed to flush the toilet when working on the night shift -- even though the U.S. Marshals Service "pays rent for the right to use this toilet." It also accuses one of the judges and his wife of demanding to swap their airplane coach seats for first-class fare that the marshals bought with taxpayer money.
The complaint, first obtained by The Associated Press in 2005, does not specify which judge or spouse is responsible for assigning which tasks to the deputy marshals included in their grievance.
It also does not name Mukasey or Duffy, although they were the only two jurists in the federal courthouse in New York's southern district who had long-standing U.S. marshals security details at the time the complaint was filed in March 2005.
"It has gotten to the point where the protectees of both details maintain such a level of control that it has created an unsafe and hostile work environment," according to the complaint, filed on behalf of nearly three dozen deputy marshals working out of New York's eastern district field office and assigned to protect the judges.
Deputy U.S. marshals, or DUSMs, "who are busy loading and unloading groceries clearly can not (sic) immediately respond to an attack," the complaint states. "Their attention is diverted from their true mission: protection."
A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter, said that most of the complaints outlined in the grievance were aimed at Duffy but would not specify which ones.
Duffy declined to comment.
Mukasey and Duffy were both given U.S. Marshals Service protection for their roles of presiding over high-profile terrorist trials. Both details began in 1993, according to the complaint, and were taken away in 2005 after the grievance was filed. Mukasey and Duffy had protection for far longer than any other federal judge around the country.
Mukasey was the chief judge at the Manhattan-based court for five years before he retired in 2006. In 1996, he sentenced the "blind sheik" Omar Abdel-Rahman to a life in prison for plotting to blow up the United Nations and other New York City landmarks. He also presided over the initial court hearings for alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla.
The Brooklyn-based deputies who signed the complaint have refused to speak or be identified publicly about their treatment. Several from other districts who protected Mukasey before the Brooklyn office took over the detail said they never saw the judge or his family mistreat the marshals.
Jim Parker, a deputy marshal based in Des Moines, Iowa, said he protected Mukasey off and on for more than eight years and recalled voluntarily trying to carry groceries into the building where the judge lived.
"There were some bags on the street, and I was thinking, 'I'll be a nice guy and carry them in, plus it keeps him from coming back outside and being a target,'" Parker recounted Tuesday. "I took about three steps and he came back out and he looked at me and said, politely, 'Would you please put my bags down.' I put the bags down and he told me, 'Jim, it's not your job to carry my bags. Your job is to protect me. So please don't do that.'"
The complaint has been the subject of debate among marshals, several of whom said the abuses were likely used as examples to draw attention to the short-staffed Brooklyn office.
"The guys were beaten to death in terms of being overextended," said Jon Adler, national executive vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which supports Mukasey's nomination for attorney general. "The grievance wasn't anything to do with Judge Mukasey himself."
Also defending Mukasey on Tuesday was Joseph Guccione, the chief U.S. marshal in Manhattan, who noted the judge doesn't even golf. But Arthur Lester, a retired marshal who worked in Mukasey's courthouse, said deputies who felt misused had a right to alert their supervisors of the problem.
"You're there to protect the individual and not to be their servant," Lester said.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.