Threats against US judges and attorneys more than doubled in six years: report

[JURIST] Threats against judges, US attorneys, and assistant US attorneys have more than doubled over the last six years, according to a report [text, PDF] released Monday by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website]. The report, conducted by the Office of the Inspector General [official website], found that judges, US attorneys, and assistant US attorneys received 1,278 threats in 2008, compared to 592 in 2003. Additionally, the report found that threats are not always consistently and promptly reported. According to the report:


Moreover, when threats are reported, the USMS [US Marshals Service] does not consistently provide an appropriate response for the risk level posed by the threat. In addition, the USMS does not fully or effectively coordinate with other law enforcement agencies to respond to threats against federal judicial officials.

The report also found that the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) [official website] and United States Attorneys Offices (UASO) could not adequately deal with threats. Among the report's 14 recommendations were reinforcing in attorneys and judges the importance of reporting threats, establishing controls within the USMS to rate threat levels, and creating procedures to ensure better communication between the USMS and the FBI and local law enforcement.

US judges and court administrators have been increasingly focused on security issues [NCSC materials] following a spate of attacks, bombings, and threats [JURIST reports] directed at judges, their families, and their workplaces in recent years. In 2008, Brian Nichols was sentenced to seven life terms to be served consecutively in addition to other punishment for shooting and killing a federal judge [JURIST reports] and other personnel in an Atlanta courthouse in an attempted escape. In April 2008, Ohio resident David Tuason was indicted for allegedly threatening to blow up the US Supreme Court building [JURIST report] and attack black men, including Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Other death threats [JURIST report] have been reported against Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and now-retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

3:00 PM ET - A gunman opened fire in a Las Vegas courthouse Monday morning, killing a security officer and wounding a deputy US marshal. The gunman, Johnny Lee Wicks, was shot dead by court security officers. Wicks was reportedly upset over losing a lawsuit related to his Social Security benefits.

 

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