A commissioner of a circuit court is an officer of the court,
authorized by law, and is entitled to his fees in the following
cases when certified by the court as correct:
(1) For entering on warrant the judgment of final disposition of
a case, when required by rule of court.
(2) For making transcripts of proceedings, when required by rule
of court, to be sent up to court.
(3) For making and certifying copies of subpoenas for marshal to
serve on witnesses, when required by rule of court.
(4) For making report to clerk of court and Commissioner of
Internal Revenue of cases heard and disposed of under the internal
revenue laws, when required by rule of court.
(5) For making entries on the docket in various cases of the
name of an affiant, his official position, if any, date of issuing
warrant, name of defendant and witnesses, and final disposition of
the case, when required by rule of court.
He is also entitled to his fees for administering oaths to
deputy marshals to verify their accounts of service, when the
regulations of the Department of Justice require such officers to
certify on oath that their accounts rendered to the marshal are
This was a claim for fees as commissioner of the Circuit Court
for the Northern District of Georgia. Appended to the petition was
a statement of the items of the petitioner's account. The Court of
Claims, upon the evidence, found the facts to be as follows:
1. The claimant, John M. Allred, was a commissioner of the
Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of
Georgia from May 28, 1889, to March 31, 1892, duly qualified and
2. During said period, he made up his accounts for services,
duly verified, and presented the same to the United States court
for approval, in the presence of the district attorney, and an
order approving the same, as being just and according to law, was
entered of record. Said accounts were then presented
Page 155 U. S. 592
to the accounting officers of the United States Treasury
Department for payment. Part was paid, but payment of the items
embraced in finding 3 was refused.
3. (1) For entering on warrant the judgment of final disposition
of the case, as required by rule of court, one folio each at 15
cents each, $53,55.
Rule 6 of the circuit court, requiring this service, is as
". . . And, after holding an examination, he must enter in the
blank on the back of the warrant his final action, in which, if
bound or committed, he shall specify the particular offence or
offences for which the party is held."
(2) For making transcript of proceedings in various cases, as
required by rule of court, to be sent up to court at 15 cents per
(3) For hearing and deciding on criminal charges in various
cases, where the proceedings consisted of taking bail, and passing
on the sufficiency thereof, six days at $5 per day, $30.
(4) For issuing separate warrants of arrest for certain
defendants, charged with separate and distinct offenses, committed
at different times and places at $1 each, entering return, 15
cents, and filing, 10 cents, $67.40.
(5) For drawing reports of attendance and mileage of witnesses,
and orders for the marshal to pay each witness, in duplicate, in
excess of 60 cents in each case, and administering oath to
witnesses, as to attendance and mileage at 10 cents each, $37.
(6) For making copy of each subpoena for marshal to serve on the
witness at 10 cents per folio, with certificate at 15 cents each as
required by rule of court, $24.35.
(7) For issuing warrant of commitment of defendants to jail for
further examination in default of bail, entering return of marshal,
and filing same at $1.25 each, $5.30.
The jailer would not receive a prisoner without a warrant of
commitment, and the marshal had no place to confine the prisoner,
outside of the jail.
(8) For making report to clerk of court and Commissioner of
Internal Revenue of cases heard and disposed of under the
Page 155 U. S. 593
internal revenue laws, as required by rule of court at 15 cents
per folio, $7.20.
(9) For administering oaths to deputy marshals to verify their
accounts of service, as required by the Attorney General and
accounting officers of the Treasury at 10 cents each, and drawing
jurats to same at 19 cents, $18.25.
(10) For making entries on the docket in various cases,
consisting of name of affiant, his official position, if any, date
of issuing warrant, name of defendant and witnesses, and final
disposition of case, as required by rule of court at 15 cents per
(11) For filing and entering 131 separate papers filed in
various cases at 10 cents each, $13.10.
(12) For administering oaths to witnesses to testify in various
cases at 10 cents each, $4.40.
Upon the foregoing findings of fact, the court determined, as a
conclusion of law, that the claimant should recover, except for
item 5 of finding 3, the sum of $329.70, for which amount judgment
was entered, and defendant appealed.
MR. JUSTICE BROWN, after stating the facts in the foregoing
language, delivered the opinion of the Court.
Error is assigned only to the allowance of items 1, 2, 6, 8, 9,
and 10 of the third finding.
1. All these items, except the ninth, relate to fees claimed to
be authorized by a rule of the court requiring the service to be
performed, and therefore allowable, within the case of United
States v. Van Duzee, 140 U. S. 169
140 U. S. 173
In that case, we held, in reference to clerks' fees, that an order
of court requiring a service to be performed was sufficient
authority, as between the clerk and the government, for the
performance of the service, and for the allowance of the proper fee
Page 155 U. S. 594
No question is made but that the services in question were
performed in obedience to such an order.
A distinction, however, is claimed between the case of a clerk,
who is strictly a subordinate officer of the court, and a
commissioner, who, it is said, is a separate judicial officer over
whom the court has no control. Acting under the constitutional
provision, Article II, Section 3, authorizing it to vest the
appointment of inferior officers in courts of law, Congress
provided, as early as 1793, for the appointment by circuit courts
of "one or more discreet persons, learned in the law, in any
district for which said court is holden," for the taking of bail
for the appearance of persons charged with crime, which authority,
however, was "revocable at the discretion of such court." These
officers took the name of "commissioners," and from time to time
their duties were extended by different acts of Congress, until
they have become an important feature of the federal judicial
system. The present authority for their appointment is found in
Rev.Stat. § 627, which authorizes each circuit court to
"in different parts of the district for which it is held, so
many discreet persons as it may deem necessary, who shall be called
'commissioners of the circuit courts,' and shall exercise the
powers which are or may be especially conferred by law upon
commissioners of circuit courts."
The authority given to the circuit courts by the original act of
1793 to revoke these appointments at the discretion of the court is
not found in the revision; but we held in Ex Parte
13 Pet. 230, that, in the absence of a law
fixing the tenure of an office and of any statutory provision as to
the removal of the officer, the power of removal was incident to
the power of appointment. A similar construction has been given in
other cases. Blake v. United States, 103 U.
; In re Eaves,
30 F. 21.
The duties of these officers are prescribed by law, and they
are, in general, to issue warrants for offenses against the United
States, to cause the offenders to be arrested and imprisoned, or
bailed, for trial, and to order the removal of offenders to other
districts (Rev.Stat. § 1014); to hold to
Page 155 U. S. 595
security of the peace and for good behavior (§ 727); to carry
into effect the award or arbitration or decree of any consul of any
foreign nation; to sit as judge or arbitrator in such differences
as may arise between the captains and crews of any vessels
belonging to the nations whose interests are committed to his
charge, and to enforce obedience by imprisonment until such award,
arbitration, or decree is complied with (§ 728); to take bail and
affidavits in civil causes (§ 945); to discharge poor convicts
imprisoned for nonpayment of fines (§ 1042); to take oaths and
acknowledgments (§ 1778); to institute prosecutions under the laws
relating to crimes against the elective franchise and civil rights
of citizens, and to appoint persons to execute warrants thereunder
(§§ 1982-1985); to issue search warrants authorizing internal
revenue officers to search premises where a fraud upon the revenue
has been committed (§ 3462); to issue warrants for deserting
foreign seamen (§ 5280); to summon masters of vessels to appear
before him and show cause why process should not issue against such
vessel (§ 4546); to issue warrants for and examine persons charged
with being fugitives from justice (§§ 5270, 5271), and to take
testimony and proofs of debt in bankruptcy proceedings (§§ 5003,
While their duties are thus prescribed by law, and while they
are, to a certain extent, independent in their statutory and
judicial action, there is no law providing how their duties shall
be performed, and, so far as relates to their administrative
action, we think they were intended to be subject to the orders and
directions of the court appointing them. As was said by this Court
in Griffin v.
2 How. 244, 43 U. S.
"there is inherent in every court a power to supervise the
conduct of its officers, and the execution of its judgments and
process. Without this power, courts would be wholly impotent and
While no express power is given over these officers by statute,
their relations to the court are such that some power of this kind
must be implied. Though not strictly officers of the court, they
have always been considered in the same light as masters in
chancery and registers in bankruptcy, and subject to its
supervision and control.
Page 155 U. S. 596
What shall be the nature of the requirements in each particular
case must be left largely to the discretion of the court. Certainly
we cannot presume that the court will abuse its discretion, or will
act otherwise than is deemed conducive to the public good.
As the items in question were approved by court, they are
presumptively correct, United States v. Jones,
134 U. S. 483
and the Court of Claims did not err in allowing them.
2. This ruling covers all but the ninth item, "for administering
oaths to deputy marshals to verify their accounts of service, as
required by the Attorney General and the accounting officers of the
In the case of United States v. McDermott, 140 U.
, we held a commissioner and chief supervisor of
elections to be entitled to fees for drawing affidavits of
supervisors as to the actual performance of the services for which
compensation was claimed by them, and for administering the oath
and drawing the jurat to such affidavits, upon the ground that the
Attorney General required these affidavits for the protection of
the government, and that it was no more than right and just that it
should pay for them. So, also, in United States v. Van
Duzee, 140 U. S. 169
140 U. S. 171
(item 3), we held that where there was an express act of Congress
requiring clerks, marshals, and district attorneys to render their
accounts to the court and to prove in open court, by oath to be
attached to such account, that the service had been actually and
necessarily performed, such officer had performed his duty by
rendering his account in proper form to the court, with proper
affidavit or oath, and was not further concerned with the method of
verification adopted by the government for its own convenience, and
was not liable for the expense of entering the orders of approval
of such accounts.
As the regulations of the Department of Justice require deputy
marshals to certify on oath that the accounts rendered to the
marshal are correct, we think this case is controlled by those
above cited, and that the court committed no error in allowing the
The judgment of the court below is therefore