Finally Fixing the Marshals Service

Nearly 18 months ago, when the husband and mother of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow were killed in their home in Chicago, the nation's spotlight shone briefly on the inability of the U.S. Marshals Service to adequately protect the judiciary. And while it became clear then (as it is now) that no security scheme can protect all judges in all circumstances, it also became clear that the Marshals had not done nearly enough with the oodles of money it had been given by Congress in the wake of 9/11.

That, finally, may be changing. USA Today this morning is reporting that the Marshals are bolstering their investigative and computer services in order to combat a spike in threats against federal judges (and state judges, too). This is a long overdue expansion of the ability of the service to track threats and to prevent rather than simply react to cowardly (and usually heinous) attacks upon judges. And it will have to be to make a dent in the huge spike in threats-- up 63 percent in 2005 from 2003-- according to the USA Today.

What I'd like to know is what has caused this rise in threats. Has it been caused by concerted political attacks upon the authority and independence of the judiciary? Has it been caused by the disrespect shown by elected officials to judges whose legal opinions they don't happen to agree with? Is the Internet and talk radio to blame? Or have the Marshals simply changed their methods of tracking or defining threats. I will try to find out and get back to you.

By Andrew Cohen |  July 27, 2006; 8:32 AM ET
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Andrew, today we live in a less civil world than we have in the immediate past, but really no worse than existed back at the turn of the 19th century, when the federal government was founded. Go back and read the newspaper "articles" that inspired for the Alien and Sedition Acts.

I have read nothing recently about judges that is worse than anything I have read in this and other fora about the President or members of Congress. Certainly nothing worse than they are saying about eachother (as you noted recently in this blog).

Criticism, even condemnation of actions, is not disrespect. I have never seen a report of elected officials threatening or inciting violence against a judge or the judiciary in general.

Certainly nothing worse than your disrespect of the Washington State judiciary for not imposing same-sex marriage on their citizens, but allowing them the choice of democracy.

Shall I alert the Marshals that you are a threat to those Washington and New York justices?

Posted by: Constitutionalist | July 27, 2006 09:18 AM

And, the Marshals don't agree with your line of reasoning:

"He [Donald Horton, chief inspector for the Marshals' Office of Protective Intelligence] attributes the increase in threats to more litigation, more aggressive communication from people with complaints against judges, easier access to judges' information and improved reporting of threats."

Whatever his inspiration in killing Judge Lefkow's family, it was not political. Based on what I have read, he was mentally disturbed. (He later killed himself.) I am sure you would forgive him and let him off on an "insanity defense."

Posted by: Constitutionalist | July 27, 2006 09:25 AM

So, given the reaction to the previous thread, you figure there are marshals on their way to Houston right now?

Posted by: adamsj | July 27, 2006 01:18 PM

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