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May 2005

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


Increased Security Funded for Judges

Congress has agreed to support increased security for federal judges. Funding for this security is in the $82 billion Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, which President Bush is expected to sign.

“With this funding, Congress recognizes the need to provide reasonable levels of security for judges and their families outside the courthouse,” said Administrative Office Director Leonidas Ralph Mecham. “As the Attorney General, members of Congress, our own Judicial Conference, the Federal Bar Association, and many others have said in recent weeks, judges must have the physical security to do their job.”

The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) will receive $11.9 million “for increased judicial security outside of courthouse facilities, including priority consideration of home intrusion detection systems in the homes of federal judges,” under an agreement worked out in conference between members of the House and Senate appropriations committees.

The report accompanying this supplemental bill states, “Recent events prove a need for increased judicial security outside of courthouse facilities to better detect, assess and respond to threats and inappropriate communications made to judges.”

The conferees also believe the USMS should reevaluate existing policies governing judicial protection and they directed the USMS to submit a report on its updated policies to the Committees on Appropriations no later than July 30, 2005.

Also stipulated in the report is that the USMS, in coordination with the Administrative Office, submit a spending plan to the Committees prior to the obligation of any of these funds.

The bill does not include funding requested by the Judicial Conference for unanticipated increases in the Judiciary’s workload associated with the recently enacted Class Action Fairness Act and the Supreme Court’s opinion in United States v. Booker and United States v. Fanfan. The Judiciary had requested $101.8 million to pay the costs of what are expected to be hundreds of new federal class action cases and a growing number of cases affected by the Booker decision. Conferees on the bill removed the $65 million provided in the Senate version of the supplemental bill for workload costs, but funding for these cases may be considered again in the Judiciary’s Fiscal Year 2006 budget.

The supplemental appropriations bill also includes a technical correction to the recently enacted Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 that redistributes bankruptcy fees, to the benefit of the Judiciary.