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US Marshals Service reports increase in threats against judiciary

[JURIST] The US Marshals Service [official website] has released statistics showing that the number of threats on judicial employees, including judges, increased 63 percent from 2003 to 2005, from 584 threats to 953. So far this year, marshals have investigated 822 threat reports. The Marshals Service, part of the US Department of Justice, is responsible for protecting federal judges, prosecutors, jurors and employees [Marshals Service backgrounder, PDF].

Chief Justice John Roberts called for increased judicial protection [JURIST report] in his 2005 year-end report on the judiciary [PDF text] after the high-profile killings of a Georgia state judge and two relatives of a Chicago district court judge [JURIST reports] last year. Supreme Court [official website] Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor [OYEZ profiles] have both said in recent speeches that they have been the target of death threats. In a March address [NPR report] O'Connor - without naming names - made reference to remarks [JURIST report] by former House Majority leader Tom DeLay following the death of Terri Schiavo. DeLay had called for the impeachment of all judges involved in the case and later remarked that "the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior." Many interpreted his remarks as a call for violence against judges. Security for judges is also becoming a national concern according to US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] who reported in March that 75 percent of the country's federal judges have requested home security systems [JURIST report] funded by the government. USA Today has more.

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