In re Neagle

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In re Neagle
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued March 4–5, 1890
Decided April 14, 1890
Full case nameIn re David Neagle
Citations135 U.S. 1 (more)
10 S. Ct. 658; 34 L. Ed. 55; 1890 U.S. LEXIS 2006
Case history
PriorAppeal from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of California
Section 3 of Art. II of the U.S. Constitution requires that the Executive Branch "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." The court determined that the appointment of bodyguards to Supreme Court Justices ensured the faithful execution of the law of the United States. The court also relied on a statute granting marshals "the same powers, in executing the laws of the United States, as sheriffs and their deputies in such State may have, by law, in executing the laws thereof."
Court membership
Chief Justice
Melville Fuller
Associate Justices
Samuel F. Miller · Stephen J. Field
Joseph P. Bradley · John M. Harlan
Horace Gray · Samuel Blatchford
Lucius Q. C. Lamar II · David J. Brewer
Case opinions
MajorityMiller, joined by Bradley, Harlan, Gray, Blatchford, Brewer
DissentLamar, joined by Fuller
Field took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
Laws applied
U.S. Const. Art. III, Sec. 788 of the Revised Statutes of the United States

In re Neagle, 135 U.S. 1 (1890), is a United States Supreme Court decision holding that the Attorney General of the United States is authorized to appoint U.S. Marshals as bodyguards to federal judges.


U.S. Marshal David B. Neagle (1847-1925) was appointed by the United States Attorney General to serve as Justice Stephen J. Field's bodyguard while Field rode circuit in California. On 14 August 1889, David S. Terry approached Field inside the Lathrop, California train station in California's San Joaquin Valley. Terry, a former California Supreme Court justice, had a grudge with Field. Fearing Terry was about to attack Field, Neagle shot and killed Terry. Field and Neagle were arrested by the San Joaquin Sheriff, Thomas Cunningham. Cunningham later released Field on his own recognizance but took Neagle to jail.[1]

The United States Attorney in San Francisco filed a writ of habeas corpus for Neagle's release. The circuit court issued the writ after a hearing and ordered Neagle's release. Sheriff Cunningham, with the aid of the State of California, appealed to the United States Supreme Court. In a 6-2 decision (Justice Field abstained), the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court.[2] The decision recognized that, as the source of all Executive authority, the president could act in the absence of specific statutory authority since there were no laws that provided for protection of federal judges by the Executive branch. Constitutionally, the decision determined that the Executive branch exercised its own "necessary and proper" authority.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History - The U.S. Marshals and Court Security". Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  2. ^ "In re Neagle". Retrieved 10 March 2017.

External links[edit]