History and Functions

In the late 1800's many cities in the western United States had a city Marshal, who was a contemporary police officer for the city. The most famous of these, of course, was Wyatt Earp before he became a United States Marshal.

The city Marshal was responsible for keeping the peace within the city limits. Outside of the city limits, that duty fell to the county Sheriff, much as it is today.

The Constable has been a fixture throughout history, from feudal times to the establishment of the original 13 colonies in America. In Shasta County, the Constable had always been a part of the Justice Courts, acting as bailiff, process server, investigator and general peacekeeper. On January first, 1989, the Marshal's Office and the Constable's Office consolidated services, becoming the Shasta County Marshal's Office.

Prior to 1993, the Sheriff's Office provided court security for the Superior Court and the Marshal's Office provided it for the Municipal Courts. Both agencies served civil papers, resulting in a duplication of effort. In January of 1993, legislation forever changed that separation, providing a consolidation of court security services. Which of the two offices (Marshal or Sheriff) would be consolidated was left up to a majority vote of the judges. The judges in Shasta County voted to have the Marshal's Office provide all security services in all courtrooms. The service of all civil process was also given to the Marshal.

In 1998, the voters approved Proposition 220, which allowed for individual counties to consolidate their Municipal and Superior Court operations. To do so, a majority of the judges of each county would have to vote to consolidate. All 58 counties did so, effectively abolishing all Municipal courts in favor of Superior Courts. The California Constitution was subsequently amended, deleting all reference to Municipal courts. So today all trial courts in the state are Superior Courts.

In 1997 the Lockyer-Isenberg Trial Court Funding Act was introduced. This act provided for the state of California to directly fund all of the trial courts. A large portion of this act related to court security issues and proposed that all Marshal's Offices be abolished and their duties taken over by the Sheriff in each county. This issue, however, was left to each locality to decide.

In Shasta County the decision was made to leave court security functions with the Marshal's Office, so the proposed merger did not occur here. Other large agencies, such as Orange County and San Diego, did merge with their respective Sheriff's Offices.

Today, there are only 3 Marshals offices left in the state- Shasta County, Trinity County and San Benito County. Of the 3, Shasta County is the largest with 30 authorized employees, all of whom are now employees of the Superior Court. In the year 2000, employees of the court system became court employees whereas before they had been county employees. This included the Marshal and all sworn deputies. The other two counties that retained a Marshal's Office did not follow suit with their sworn law enforcement officers, continuing their status as county employees.

It is the first time that the trial courts in California have directly employed peace officers. As a side note, the Superior Courts recently purchased 2 surplus vehicles from the Redding Police Department and outfitted them as emergency vehicles. This is also the first time in the history of the state of California that local trial courts have owned true emergency vehicles. In the past the county owned the emergency vehicles, as well as employing the personnel.

The Superior Court and the Marshal's Office are navigating uncharted waters and at the same time making history.

Today, the Marshal's Office provides a myriad of services to the community:

  • We are responsible for security in all of the courtrooms in the county, as well as the courthouse itself.

  • We provide judicial protection for the bench officers.

  • We serve warrants of arrest, taking criminals to jail.

  • As fully sworn law enforcement officers, we also perform general law enforcement duties within the county, such as traffic enforcement and assistance to other agencies as needed.

  • Perhaps the most visible and familiar role we play is screening for weapons at the front door of the courthouse. If you have to come to the courthouse for any reason, you must first pass through an airport style weapon screening station. This includes jurors in criminal or civil trials, attorneys, police officers and members of the general public.

The Marshal and all Deputy Marshal's have the same peace officer authority as city Police Officers and Deputy Sheriff's. This authority is derived from California Penal Code section 830.1. A recent legislative change to that section, spearheaded by members of this office, replaced the word "municipal" with "superior" in reference to the courts and added the word "county" so as to more accurately reflect the current situation with the remaining Marshal's Offices.