The federal court system seeks immediate funding for a “comprehensive package of off-site security enhancements” for judges, including $12 millioin to install a home intrusion detection system for each federal judge. In a letter to President Bush, the U.S. Judicial Conference says security improvements are needed in light of the “brutal murders” of Chicago federal judge Joan Lefkow’s family and the killing of state judge Rowland Barnes and court employees in Atlanta.
“Federal judges across the country are feeling particularly vulnerable, not only for themselves, but also for their families,” conference secretary Leonidas Ralph Mecham wrote the White House. Mecham said that the staff of three in the U.S. Marshals Service’s Office of Protective Intelligence “is woefully inadequate and should be increased.” He also called for a “rigorous program of threat investigation” by the marshals and increased availability of deputy marshals in courtrooms for criminal cases. Mecham noted that judges often are “subject to harsh, sometimes vicious, criticism” over their rulings.