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Case Basics
Docket No. 
In re Neagle
Decided By 
Facts of the Case 

Suspecting a plot against Justice Stephen J. Field's life, the U.S. Attorney General appointed Neagle, a U.S. Marshall, to protect him. Acting as Field's bodyguard, Neagle shot and killed a man who appeared about to attack the justice. After California officials arrested and jailed Neagle, the U.S. sought his release by a writ of habeas corpus.


Was the state obligated to obey the writ even though no national statute empowered the Attorney General to provide judges with bodyguards?


Yes. The Court held that the Attorney General acted appropriately since assigning Neagle as Field's bodyguard assured that the nation's laws would be faithfully executed. Furthermore, Neagle's actions were consistent with a congressional statute which provided U.S. Marshalls with "the same powers, in executing the laws" as state sheriffs and deputies (who would have been allowed to deter an attack on Field's life).

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IN RE NEAGLE. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <>.
IN RE NEAGLE, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 26, 2015).
"IN RE NEAGLE," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015,