More than one-third of the deputy U.S. marshals in the District of Columbia, including all nine women deputies, were told this week that they will be out of jobs as of Jan. 29.
The layoffs are part of a Reagan administration move to enforce both newly ordered budget cuts and a longstanding order to reduce the number of marshals here. The elimination of 43 of 122 deputy marshal jobs is expected to affect most severely the D.C. Superior Court, where the deputies shuttle criminal defendants in and out of the courthouse, serve court papers in civil cases and enforce evictions.
William E. Dempsey, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, said yesterday that as a result of the cutback, deputies will no longer staff the cellblock at the Superior Court, a cavernous detention area where as many as 100 defendants a day are held while they wait to appear in court.
Moreover, Dempsey said, deputies will also stop transporting prisoners back and forth to court from Lorton Reformatory, the D.C. Jail and the central cellblock at D.C. police headquarters.
Superior Court administrator Larry Polansky said that the staff cutbacks will be "just disastrous" for the local court, particularly the elimination of the marshals' moving prisoners in and out of the busy courthouse.
Dempsey said that the marshals service considered seniority, job performance and prior military experience in determining which deputies would lose their jobs as a result of the reduction-in-force order.
In 1979, a joint manpower study by the Justice Department and marshals service directed the Washington office to reduce its staff from 155 to 94 deputies. Since then, attrition, voluntary reassignments and retirements have brought the number down to 122, Dempsey said.
The 43 reduction-in-force notices issued on Monday represent not only the cuts necessary to pare the force to 94, but also new budget cuts ordered by the Reagan administration, which will bring the number of marshals here down to 79 deputies, Dempsey said.
The cutback also means that the Marshals Service in Washington will no longer carry out evictions, Dempsey said. In 1980, deputy marshals in Washington executed 2,389 eviction orders issued in the city's Landlord and Tenant Court.
In other jurisdictions throughout the country, such purely local matters as evictions and prisoner transportation are carried out by the local sheriff's office. The U.S. Marshals Service, traditionally assigned to the federal district courts, carries out those duties for the local court in Washington because of the District of Columbia's continuing ties to the federal government even with limited home rule.
In Superior Court and nationwide, the marshals will also eliminate a service in which attorneys paid what Dempsey described as a "minimal fee" for delivery of court papers to opposing parties in civil cases. Those duties will now have to be carried out by private process servers.
After the cutbacks, Dempsey said the service will concentrate on what he termed its "primary missions," including protection of judges and witnesses, attendance at criminal trials, execution of arrest warrants and service of court papers for the government. Marshals will no longer attend civil trials.