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Contempt hearing set over judge’s order requiring vaccine

May 24, 2021 GMT

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) — A federal judge in Aberdeen will decide whether three members of the U.S. Marshals Service should be found in civil contempt over his requirement to have everyone in his courtroom vaccinated for the coronavirus.

Judge Charles Kornmann notified courthouse employees in March that the vaccinations would be required in order to provide the safest environment for everyone.

The U.S. marshal for South Dakota, Daniel Mosteller, responded to the judge, telling him the U.S. Marshals Service is not requiring employees to get the vaccine and that they will not provide their vaccination status to the court.

Kornmann held his first courtroom session for the year on May 10. The U.S. marshal who brought the first defendant into the courtroom refused to disclose her vaccination status, Aberdeen American News reported. As a result, Kornmann told the marshal to leave and pulled in a different deputy marshal to sit in the courtroom.

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Chief deputy marshal, Stephen Houghtaling, told Kornmann by phone that the remaining defendants scheduled for hearings had been removed from the courthouse because the marshals service didn’t think it could keep the courtroom secure without two marshals in the room.

Kornmann noted that the marshals service hasn’t followed that practice in the past.

The judge ordered Mosteller, Houghtaling and the chief of staff for the U.S. Marshals Service, John Kilgallon, to appear at a hearing June 14.