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  1. #1
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    Threats against judges increasing

    When you think of high-risk jobs, you probably do not think of judges. But perhaps you should.

    In 2005, a man angry about a Chicago judge's ruling killed the judge's husband and mother, authorities say.

    According to the U.S. Marshals Service, the number of threats against federal judges and prosecutors has mushroomed from 500 in 2003 to 1,278 in 2008. It is on track to go even higher this year. There are no statistics on the number of threats against state and local judges.

    U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton has had his share. His decision not to grant bail to Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, triggered several threats, but there have been others.

    "I received some threats in a case about a bear hunt that I refused to stop from animal-rights activists. I also received some after I issued a Second Amendment opinion," Walton says.

    As a result, the U.S. Marshals Service, which is responsible for the protection of federal judges, installed an elaborate camera surveillance system at Walton's house. He has taken other protective measures himself, which he declines to disclose.

    "You can't let it impede on what you do as a judge, but obviously you're concerned about your security and the security of your family, so you do take it seriously." Video Watch how threats have increased

    Bobby Fagan, deputy assistant director of the U.S. Marshals Service, also takes it seriously. "Our third branch of government is where the rule of law and our basic freedoms are upheld day in and day out. The civilized world could not function without our judicial branch, and for them to be independent and safe and not intimidated or harmed ... is a sacred responsibility of the Marshals."

    The Marshals' Judiciary Security Division has opened a threat management center to collect, analyze and investigate inappropriate communications with judges. Fagan says it is sometimes a challenge to distinguish between a threat and a legitimate expression of opinion.

    In borderline cases attorneys are consulted to determine whether a communication crosses the line of protected First Amendment speech.

    Fagan says the people sending the threats are "individuals frustrated with the legal system" who "feel that they have not gotten their day in court." Investigation often reveals that they have made previous threats against judges in state and local courts. Fagan says the threats often escalate as a case moves through the legal system. "The federal court is their final forum, the last resort in their minds to get justice."

    Judge Laurie White of the Orleans Parish Criminal Court in Louisiana says she has not gotten any threats in her two years sitting on the bench. However, she did get threats when she was a prosecutor and a defense attorney, and she is well aware of the dangers. She feels exposed to possible danger from her doorstep to her courtroom.

    "If you're going to get elected and be in the rough and tough world of criminal justice, you can't be shy and you'd better have nerves of steel. And you better have a strong gut. Because it is not easy, it's not an easy spot, and I think you do this job at your own personal risk."

    In Louisiana judges are the only ones allowed to carry guns in the courtroom, but White doesn't want to discuss whether she does.

    In 2005, authorities say, a man who was distraught about the dismissal of his medical malpractice case murdered the husband and mother of Judge Joan Lefkow in Chicago. That tragic case has led to better reporting of threats against judges, according the the U.S. Marshals.

    But Walton has his own theory on why the volume of threats has increased. "I think the unfortunate reality is our society has become so partisan ... that when you have hot-button issues, people take it to the extreme."
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    He places some of the blame on talk show hosts. "The type of vicious attacks sometimes that you see coming from certain players in the media, I think contributes to the problem."

    When asked what can be done about the situation, Walton responds: "It will take societal change, I think," and heaves a deep sigh.

    Threats against judges mushrooming, marshals say - CNN.com

    From CNN's Jeanne Meserve, Eric Marrapodi, Carol Cratty and Terry Frieden.

  2. #2
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    In Georgia, judges are exempt from state laws pertaining to the carrying of firearms. I know of several judges who carry in and out of the courtroom and even carry weapons that are issued by the county where they are elected (in most of these cases they qualify with the weapon just as peace officers). Can't blame them at all for arming themselves.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by GASheepdog View Post
    In Georgia, judges are exempt from state laws pertaining to the carrying of firearms. I know of several judges who carry in and out of the courtroom and even carry weapons that are issued by the county where they are elected (in most of these cases they qualify with the weapon just as peace officers). Can't blame them at all for arming themselves.

    I agree, as a judge I would carry and qualify just for such occassions that were mentioned above.

    Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:

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    There are a lot of Judges that no longer have the respect of the public.

    Shame really, but a long history of legislation on the bench combined with scary silly decisions have reduced the judiciary to a comedy in many instances, and in some cases a target.
    I'm your huckleberry...

    Quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit, occidentus telum est!

    You can be the weapon, and the gun in your hand is a tool - or the gun is a weapon and you are the tool.


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  5. #5
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    For just that very reason, we are not allowed to carry suspects to the judge's house for an impromptu hearing in their driveway anymore (yes they used to do that, but discontinued it long before I got there ).

    Now it's off to County Jail and the judge sees them when he gets around to it, which is not always promptly

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    Don't tell me Texas still has that "take them directly before a magistrate" rule...
    I'm your huckleberry...

    Quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit, occidentus telum est!

    You can be the weapon, and the gun in your hand is a tool - or the gun is a weapon and you are the tool.


    I was looking for a saint who was a devil of a lover,
    but every girl I found was either one way or the other...



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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    Don't tell me Texas still has that "take them directly before a magistrate" rule...
    Yep, pretty much

    The wording is that he must be taken before a magistrate "without unnecessary delay", but the actual time limit is 48 hours.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    Don't tell me Texas still has that "take them directly before a magistrate" rule...
    North Carolina does. It sucks in the worst way.

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    And as far as more Judges being threatened.........WAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAA!

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    Given that judges decide cases and decree things like "it's part of a police officers job to be hit" and then drop "assault on an officer" charges, I can't say I'll lose any sleep over their worries. Maybe it's part of their job also.
    "When a crime is committed, liberals blame society. Conservatives blame the criminal." -Debra Saunders

    Old Scottish Motto- "nemo me impune laccessit". It still holds true today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terminator View Post
    And as far as more Judges being threatened.........WAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAA!
    i was gonna say the same thing. stop whining. i get threatened almost every day. and then i typically have to see and deal with the turd that threatened me the next day, and the next day, and the next day, etc...and not from behind the bench surrounded by security, in the fucking trenches where anything goes.
    in the warriors code there's no surrender, though his body says stop, his spirit cries...NEVER. deep in our souls, a quiet ember, knows its you against you, its the paradox that drives us all. its a battle of wills, in the heat of attack, its the passion that kills, and victory is yours alone.


    the posts and opinions stated by me do not in any way reflect the values, beliefs, or views of my department. they are simply opinions and/or observations which have been developed through my personal experiences. hell, most of the stories probably arent even true...wink wink

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by CT209 View Post
    Given that judges decide cases and decree things like "it's part of a police officers job to be hit" and then drop "assault on an officer" charges, I can't say I'll lose any sleep over their worries. Maybe it's part of their job also.
    Quote Originally Posted by tapout View Post
    i was gonna say the same thing. stop whining. i get threatened almost every day. and then i typically have to see and deal with the turd that threatened me the next day, and the next day, and the next day, etc...and not from behind the bench surrounded by security, in the fucking trenches where anything goes.
    Welcome to my world , your Honor ....which thanks to most Judges is over-populated with repeat violent offenders on probation.
    SI VIS PACEM PARA BELLUM

    "It's a great life. You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again. If your honest , your poor your whole life. And , In the end , you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star."
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain America View Post
    Welcome to my world , your Honor ....which thanks to most Judges is over-populated with repeat violent offenders on probation.
    It would be nice to think their decisions to grant probation and light sentences may be deterred by the threats, but unfortunately I think it will intimidate the more liberal judges into imposing even lighter sentences so the criminals will target someone else when they get out.

    Of course the pitch word for that will be "compasion" (or "empathy", in the case of Obama's new Supreme Court pick).

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