The U.S. judiciary is seeking new legislation and additional resources to protect judges’ personal information available on the internet after a deadly attack at a federal judge’s home.
The policy making arm of the federal judiciary, the Judicial Conference, also said Friday that it is seeking congressional appropriations for upgrades to security systems at judges’ homes and at courthouses.
The request comes after a July attack at the home of District of New Jersey Judge Esther Salas in North Brunswick, N.J. A shooter, who had been involved in a case heard by the judge, dressed as a delivery driver shot and killed Salas’ son, Daniel Anderl, and wounded her husband, Mark Anderl.
Salas then called for enhanced protections of judges’ private information, saying the now deceased gunman had a “had a complete dossier” on her and her family, and used that information to target them.
“My son’s death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench,” Salas said in an emotional video statement.
As part of its recommendations, the judiciary suggested coordinating with the U.S. Marshals Service, which is tasked with protecting about 2,700 federal judges and 30,300 other court officials, to monitor the availability of judges’ personal information and advise other law enforcement agencies about inappropriate communications. The Judicial Conference didn’t specify what the legislation could include.
“The horror that Judge Esther Salas experienced less than a month ago underscores the urgent need for this action,” James C. Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts that supports the judiciary, said in the Friday statement.
The request isn’t the first time the judiciary has called for action after an attack on a federal judge’s family. Lawmakers approved $12 million to fund the installation and upkeep of home security systems for federal judges after the husband and mother of now-senior U.S. Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow were shot and killed inside her Chicago home in 2005.
The attack on Salas and her family already prompted some lawmakers to consider legislative responses. After Salas’ video statement, New Jersey’s two Democratic senators, Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, announced they were working on legislation to protect judges against threats.
“The tragedy experienced by the Anderl-Salas family should give us the sense of urgency to act to protect all federal judges. There’s no time to waste,” the senators said.
The attack and the subsequent call for enhanced protections comes at a time when threats to judges and other court workers are increasing.
Earlier this year, the Marshals Service reported increases in threats and inappropriate communications against the judiciary in recent years. The Marshals Service also said it “expects this rise to steadily increase over the next several years and anticipates an equal rise in more complex threats.”
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