The 1801 Act creating the D.C. Courts also authorized the President to appoint a Marshal for the District of Columbia. In addition to serving subpoenas, summonses, writs, and warrants, the Marshal of D.C. was responsible for the jail, served as Marshal of the U.S. Supreme Court, maintained order at public functions in and around the presidential mansion, and by James Monroe’s second term became a social aide to the President. While the post was unsalaried, the Marshal was permitted to profit from the sale of food to prisoners. Additionally, each debtor, runaway slave, and criminal was obligated to reimburse the Marshal’s expenses. And, if free blacks couldn’t pay their fees, they could be sold into slavery with the Marshal retaining the profit. This arrangement proved so lucrative and scandalous that during the Civil War Congress placed the Marshal on an annual allowance.

Think the exclusionary rule is entirely the product of modern-day, bleeding heart judges? In 1802 the D.C. Circuit Court held that “no confession, extorted from the prisoner by threats of punishment or obtained by the promise of reward or favor” could be used as evidence against him. Nevertheless, four years later the Court eased the rule by allowing juries to hear facts discovered in consequence of the barred confession. For more on the 1802 ruling, see Calmly to Poise the Scales of Justice: A History of the District of Columbia Circuit, which is available for purchase at