The contempt trial against the United States Marshals Service for refusing to comply with vaccination rules set by the United States District Court of South Dakota has taken a couple of twists. In an order issued Tuesday, Judge Charles Kornmann of Aberdeen recuses himself from the contempt proceedings he initiated in May and appoints Thomas G. Fritz of Rapid City to serve as special prosecutor. The contempt case requires a special prosecutor because the United States Attorney’s Office for South Dakota has recused itself from the case. The USA’s office assigned the matter to the Department of Justice, but the DOJ declined to prosecute.
Hmmm… marshals refuse to follow a court’s rules, disrupt court proceedings, and interfere with defendants’ rights, and now federal prosecutors refuse to prosecute the marshals for their misbehavior? It looks like law enforcement is closing ranks in support of a coup against the judiciary.
On top of the federal authorities’ refusal to participate in holding the U.S. Marshals’ accountable for their contempt, the Marshals have recruited leading South Dakota Republican lawyers to their cause: Sioux Falls attorney Scott Abdallah and his new office mate and former U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons will represent U.S. Marshals chief of staff John Kilgallon, while Pierre attorney and candidate for Attorney General Marty Jackley will represent South Dakota chief deputy US Marshal Stephen Houghtaling.
Wow—I’d get shots, wear a mask, and pay money to watch that show!
But hey, you pro-pandemic radicals who want to come cheer Marty and friends for pushing the blue flu-heavy anti-vax agenda, note that Judge Kornmann says this trial is not about vaccine requirements:
The Department of Justice, acting through the Marshals Service, has apparently adopted a public policy to the effect that DOJ policies may trump lawful federal court orders. This cannot be permitted. Despite some public confusion, this case has nothing to do with requiring anyone to be fully vaccinated.
This case has to do with actions by officials of the United States Marshals Service to taking unilateral action to remove three federal criminal defendants—Juan Smith (1:20-CR-10024-CBK), Christopher Plenty Chief (1:16-CR-10038-CBK), and Travis Weasel (1:10-CR-10017-CBK)—from the courthouse to an unknown location with neither knowledge nor permission of the Court. The Court, the AUSA prosecutor, defense attorneys, and court officials were all severely inconvenienced and challenged by what I allege to be outrageous illegal activity on the part of the three defendants. The defendants and the Department of Justice continue to maintain a position that the only failures here were failures of communications. That is simply not true. The cases of the three defendants involved deliberate and contemptuous removal of defendants in custody pursuant to lawful court scheduling orders, thus preventing timely scheduling as previously ordered. It also involves the refusal of the defendants to agree to change course to produce federal defendants—Rene DeLeon, Jr. (1:21-CR-10008-CBK), Brendon Rodlund (1:20-CR-10041(01)-CBK, and Frank One Feather, Jr. (1:19-CR-10051-CBK)—who were each in custody and subject to lawful scheduling orders for hearings the following day. The Court, through an IT officer employed by the federal judiciary, found a way to conduct hearings in a remote location away from the Courtroom, a procedure which depended on the consent of the defendants and their attorneys which consents, luckily, were granted.
Nor did any of the defendants or anyone from the Department of Justice ever seek to do anything of substance following the illegal actions, requiring this Court, after some delay, to proceed initially under Civil Contempt and then under Criminal Contempt. In short, I believe the contempt continues.
I sincerely regret that the disputes must continue but I cannot ignore what may be a significant conflict between the Federal Judiciary and the Executive branch of our government [Judge Charles Kornmann, order, USA v. Kilgallon, Mosteller, and Houghtaling, 2021.06.29].
Judge Kornmann has scheduled the Marshals’ trial for September 13, 10:00 a.m., at the Federal Courthouse in Aberdeen. We’ll see if the judge who takes the bench for Kornmann is able to stick with that schedule.