Contempt Charges Dropped For 3 Marshals Service Supervisors

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) — Contempt charges have been dismissed for three supervisors in the U.S. Marshals Service for a series of events that began with a deputy marshal refusing to disclose her vaccination status while serving in federal court in Aberdeen.

A mid-December trial in Sioux Falls has been canceled.

Federal Judge Charles Kornmann filed the charges against John Kilgallon, chief of staff, Daniel Mosteller, U.S. marshal in South Dakota and Stephen Houghtaling, chief deputy U.S. marshal.

Kornmann had issued a directive earlier this year that anybody in his courtroom needed to be vaccinated for COVID-19. The Marshals Service argued that no deputy marshals should be required to disclose their vaccination status.

When a deputy marshal refused to disclose her status during a proceeding last May, she was directed to leave the courtroom in Aberdeen. Upon the direction of her supervisors, she took the defendants who were awaiting hearings before Kornmann out of the courthouse and the proceedings were held virtually.

Civil contempt charges were initially pursued, but later converted to criminal contempt charges after a hearing before Kornmann, the Argus Leader reported.

After those charges were filed, however, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Dakota and the U.S. Department of Justice both recused themselves from criminally prosecuting the case and a special prosecutor was assigned.

Kornmann also recused himself, leading to the appointment of a federal judge in Nebraska who dismissed the charges last week.