It would also encourage states to protect personal information, improve the ability of the United States Marshals Service to identify threats and authorize upgrades to judges’ home security systems.
The ambush that took my son and gravely wounded my husband is not the first such attack. In 2005, United States District Judge Joan Lefkow of Chicago returned home to find her mother and husband killed by an angry litigant. Since 1979, four federal judges have been murdered.
The threat to judges is intensifying. Security incidents targeting judges and other personnel who play integral roles in federal court cases rose to 4,449 threats and inappropriate communications in 2019, from 926 such incidents in 2015, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
On Oct. 31, a federal judge in Houston learned from a former law clerk that his home address had been posted on Twitter. On Nov. 25, an intruder entered a judge’s chambers in Southern California, threatening to kill the judge and striking and damaging his desk with a metal cane which was later found to hold a metal blade. The assailant fled after the judge, who was physically unharmed, called 911.
In my case, Roy Den Hollander, a New York lawyer who had filed a suit against the male-only military draft, harbored deadly grudges. On July 11, 2020, he killed a lawyer in California. Eight days later, he came to our door and killed Daniel. Too late, I learned that he had often described himself as “anti-feminist.” In a self-published memoir, he described me as “a lazy and incompetent Latina judge appointed by Obama.”
A determined killer will always be difficult to stop, but we make it far too easy to locate judges. Removing our personally identifiable information from the internet is a critical first defense.
It is also essential to make judges’ homes safer. In 2005, after the attack on Judge Lefkow’s family, Congress funded security systems for judges’ homes. These measures are badly in need of an update to include external video and other safety features common in commercially available home security systems.