ABA House urges Congress to pass judicial security bill
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After last year’s deadly attack on a New Jersey federal judge’s home, the ABA House of Delegates adopted a resolution Monday calling on Congress to push for greater protections for members of the judiciary.
Resolution 10E supports the passage of the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2020, named after U.S. District Judge Esther Salas’ 20-year-old son.
Speaking in support of the resolution at the ABA Virtual Midyear Meeting, Anthony Ciolli of the Virgin Islands Bar Association said it is the American Bar Association’s mission to advance the rule of law and uphold the independence of the judiciary.
“It is difficult to conceive of anything that undermines those goals more than judges justifiably fearing that dissatisfied litigants or others who disagree with their decisions may physically harm them and their families at their homes,” Ciolli said.
In July 2020, a man posing as a delivery driver shot and killed Anderl at Salas’ home in Brunswick, New Jersey. Authorities identified the gunman as Roy Den Hollander, a self-described “anti-feminist” lawyer who was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his car about 150 miles north of the judge’s house.
The bill would bar disclosure of judges’ and their immediate family members’ personally identifiable information. The ABA House also encourages the passage of similar laws at state and local levels that would protect judges.
South Carolina Judge Danette Mincey of the National Conference of the Administrative Law Judiciary also spoke in support of the resolution. The judge noted that threats against judges have “become all too common.”
“As America becomes more and more polarized, these incidents will likely continue to increase,” Mincey said. “Judges must remain free from harassment and threats of violence.”
Between 2014 and 2019, the U.S. Marshals Service noted an increase in threats to federal judges and other members of the federal judiciary. In 2014, 768 threats or “inappropriate communications” were made; in 2019, there were 4,449, a 479% increase, according to data analyzed by the ABA Journal for an October feature story.
Follow along with the ABA Journal’s coverage of the 2021 ABA Midyear Meeting here.