WASHINGTON – Emptying the trash, carrying groceries and toting golf clubs were among duties allegedly assigned to U.S. marshals protecting two federal judges in New York over the last decade — one of whom has been nominated to be the next U.S. attorney general.
The valet-like chores were outlined in a complaint two years ago against Michael B. Mukasey, another judge and their wives by deputy marshals assigned to the judges' security details.
The complaint says marshals weren't allowed to flush the toilet when working on the night shift — even though the U.S. Marshals Service "pays rent for the right to use this toilet." It also accuses one of the judges and his wife of demanding to swap their airplane coach seats with first-class fare that the marshals bought with taxpayer money.
If confirmed as the nation's 81st attorney general, Mukasey would oversee the U.S. Marshals Service.
The complaint, first obtained by The Associated Press in 2005, does not specify which judge or spouse is responsible for assigning which tasks to the deputy marshals included in their grievance.
It also does not name Mukasey or the other judge, Kevin Thomas Duffy, although they were the only two jurists in the federal courthouse in New York's southern district who had long-standing U.S. marshals security details at the time the complaint was filed in March 2005.
"The protectees feel that, due to their stature, they are entitled to control how the details operate and to demand certain benefits from their details," according to the complaint, filed on behalf of by nearly three dozen deputy marshals working out of New York's eastern district field office and assigned to protect the judges.
"It has gotten to the point where the protectees of both details maintain such a level of control that it has created an unsafe and hostile work environment," the complaint says.
Deputy U.S. marshals, or DUSMs, "who are busy loading and unloading groceries clearly can not (sic) immediately respond to an attack," the complaint states. "Their attention is diverted from their true mission: protection."
A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter, said that most of the complaints outlined in the grievance were aimed at Duffy.
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said that Mukasey "has never treated anyone with anything less than respect."
"And anyone who has worked around him will attest he would never ask anyone to do anything inappropriate in any way," Fratto said of Mukasey.
The U.S. Marshals Service assigns security details to judges who have been threatened, and Mukasey and Duffy were both given protection in their roles of presiding over high-profile terrorist trials. Both details began in 1993, according to the complaint, and were taken away in 2005.