This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.
Judicial Security Outside the Courthouse to Improve
Nearly a year after the murder of Judge Joan Lefkow’s husband and mother in
her Chicago home, a program to provide all federal judges with increased
judicial security outside of courthouse facilities finally is materializing. A
national contract to install home intrusion detection systems in the homes of
federal judges was awarded by the U.S. Marshals Service in December 2005, and
installations began in February 2006. The USMS has agreed to pay monitoring and
maintenance charges on the new systems for fiscal year 2006, and to seek funding
for subsequent years.
“Threats and attacks against judges strike at the core of our system of
justice,” said Judge David Sentelle (D.C. Cir.), chair of the Judicial
Conference Committee on Security. “Judges must be free to make judicial
decisions without the fear of physical harm to themselves or to members of their
families. With the resources Congress has given them, the U.S. Marshals Service
can better protect federal judges and their families.”
In April 2005, Administrative Office Director Leonidas Ralph Mecham told the
President and Congressional leaders that the murders of the Lefkow family
members and the killings at a county courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia, “have left
judges feeling particularly vulnerable, not only for themselves, but also for
their families.” The AO called on Congress to provide immediate funding for a
comprehensive package of off-site security enhancements.
In May 2005, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the
Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005, became law, giving the U.S.
Marshals Service $11.9 million, requested by the AO, “for increased judicial
security outside of courthouse facilities, including priority consideration of
home intrusion detection systems in the homes of federal judges.”
In its conference report on the bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee
said, “Recent events prove a need for increased judicial security, including
outside courthouse facilities, which falls under the jurisdiction of the USMS.
The Committee believes the USMS should reevaluate existing policies governing
when and whether suspicious threats and inappropriate communications demand
judicial protection. The Committee also recommends funding increases to enhance
the USMS’s ability to assess and respond to such threats, including funding for
off-site security enhancements such as home intrusion detection systems.”
The funding will be used to procure and install alarm systems for federal
judges. It also will pay for judicial protective details and other judicial
security measures employed by the USMS to investigate and counter threats to
judges. Those measures include staffing for the USMS’s Office of Protective
Intelligence and its threat assessment capabilities.