Pa. Bur. of Corr. v. Marshals Svc.,
474 U.S. 34 (1985)

Annotate this Case
  • Syllabus  | 
  • Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Pa. Bur. of Corr. v. Marshals Svc., 474 U.S. 34 (1985)

Pennsylvania Bureau of Correction v. United States Marshals Service

No. 84-489

Argued October 15, 1985

Decided November 18, 1985

474 U.S. 34


A Pennsylvania state prisoner temporarily confined in the Philadelphia County jail brought suit in Federal District Court under 42 U. S.C. § 1983 against various county officials, alleging that they had beaten and harassed him. The court assigned the action to a Magistrate, who issued writs of habeas corpus ad testificandum for the producing of state prisoners, including the plaintiff, as witnesses. The order directed the state Wardens to transport the prisoners to the county jail nearest the federal court, and then directed the United States Marshals Service (respondent) to transport the prisoners from the county jail to the federal court. Respondent's motion for reconsideration of the latter part of the order was denied. The Court of Appeals reversed in pertinent part, holding that the All Writs Act did not confer power on the District Court to compel noncustodians to bear the expense of producing the prisoner-witnesses.

Held: There is no statutory authority for the order in question. Pp. 474 U. S. 37-43.

(a) Title 28 U.S.C. §§ 567 and 569(b) merely enumerate respondent's obligations to obey a federal court's mandate and to transport prisoners if the court so orders. The court's authority to issue such mandates must derive from some independent source. Pp. 474 U. S. 37-38.

(b) The habeas corpus statutes -- 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241(c)(5) and 2243 -- do not authorize a federal court to direct a writ ad testificandum to parties who do not have custody of the prisoner. There is no evidence in the language of §§ 2241 and 2243, in their legislative history, or in the common law writ ad testificandum that courts are empowered to cause third parties who are neither custodians nor parties to the litigation to bear the cost of producing the prisoner in federal court. Nor does Carbo v. United States, 364 U. S. 611, support an expansive reading of the power conferred upon federal district courts by the writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum. Pp. 474 U. S. 38-39.

(c) The All Writs Act does not confer authority upon a federal court to issue an order such as the one at issue. An examination of the Act, its legislative history, and this Court's past interpretations of the Act all support this conclusion. Although the Act empowers federal courts to

Page 474 U. S. 35

fashion extraordinary remedies when the need arises, it does not authorize them to issue ad hoc writs whenever compliance with statutory procedures appears inconvenient or less appropriate. Pp. 474 U. S. 40-43.

737 F.2d 1283, affirmed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 474 U. S. 43.

Disclaimer: Official Supreme Court case law is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia case law is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.