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What Are the Duties of a City Marshal?

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A city marshal is a public servant who performs a variety of duties aimed at enforcing the rulings of the civil court system. Employed by the municipality in which he works, a marshal is often appointed to his post by the sitting mayor. Depending upon the jurisdiction, there may be a term limit to his role. For example, city marshals in New York City serve five-year terms. Although some city marshals are paid a salary for their services, others are compensated with a percentage of the funds they receive when collecting and seizing fines and property.

Court Officer

When a ruling has been made by a judge in civil court, a city marshal goes out into the community to enforce it. For example, when a landlord begins the process required to evict a tenant, the city marshal serves the tenant with a notice of eviction. Following the court proceedings, she carries out the eviction, escorting the former tenant and his belongings off the property.

A city marshal communications with witnesses and defendants on behalf of the court. In this aspect, she serves individuals with warrants, subpoenas and other court orders. In addition, she is responsible for scheduling their court appearances. In instances when a defendant has an outstanding warrant, a city marshal maintains the authority to make an arrest.

In court, a city marshal coordinates the schedules for bailiffs and other court security officers. When required, she serves as bailiff during legal proceedings.


When defendants are issued tickets or fines as a result of their activities, such as restitution for damaged property, a city marshal oversees the coordination of long-term payment plans. In this capacity, he maintains detailed records, highlighting all payment agreements as directed by the judge. He may also collect payments, such as those pertaining to traffic violations, prior to a court date. This often eliminates the need for a defendant to appear in court.

Property Seizure

In instance when a judgment has been made against a defendant for non-payment, a city marshal is responsible for seizing the property. This may include automobiles, money, or even movable property, such as merchandise meant for sale from a retail shop. In addition, a city marshal has the power to authorize the garnishment of a defendant’s wages. This is executed through the filling out and filing of appropriate forms, in accordance with the policies of the municipality.


KJ Henderson has more than a decade of HR and talent acquisition experience. He has held roles at a Fortune 100 investment bank, a media conglomerate and at one of NYC's largest executive staffing firms. He currently heads recruitment sourcing at a major movie studio. He read literature at Oxford.

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