Television news microphones outside the Thurgood Marshall federal courthouse in New York, US, on Tuesday, December 28, 2021.
Angus Mordant | Bloomberg | Getty Images
More than 1000 federal judges they asked American courts system to help remove personally identifiable information from the Internet as part of a program implemented after the son of a New Jersey judge he was murdered in their house.
That’s nearly one-third of active and former federal judges eligible for the program, a spokesman for the U.S. court system told CNBC on Friday. The response to the online cleanup program was detailed in the agency’s annual report released Thursday.
The report also detailed what it called a “dramatic increase threats and inappropriate communication against federal judges and other court employees” in recent years.
There were 4,511 of those incidents in 2021, a more than fourfold increase from 926 in 2015, according to the report. It cited the US Marshals Service, the agency responsible for protecting federal judges and courthouses.
“Some of the cases involved litigants angered by judges’ decisions in the cases,” the report said. “And the home addresses of judges handling controversial cases have been circulating on social media.”
The The Department of Justice’s internal watchdog a 2021 report found that the Marshals Service lacked sufficient resources to adequately protect federal judges and prosecutors.
Last June, a California man armed with a gun, knife and pepper spray was arrested outside a Supreme Court judge’s home. Brett Kavanaugh.
Federal authorities said the man, Nicholas John Roske, planned to kill Kavanaugh in part because of his expectation that the Supreme Court would overturn federal abortion rights. The court did so less than two weeks later.
Three months before Kavanaugh was targeted, the U.S. court system’s threat management unit began helping judges remove or redact their personal information from websites.
More than 600 judges had participated in the program by November, and nearly 400 more have since, the spokesman said.
The information to be removed includes home addresses, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and the addresses of the children’s schools and training centers, according to the spokesperson.
National Law Journal first announced that 1,000 judges have signed up so far for the program, which began with Congressional approval in anticipation of the recently passed Judge Privacy Act.
About 3,330 judges are eligible for the program and around 2,300 of them are actively working.
The Supreme Court is conducting its own program to remove personally identifiable information for nine justices of that court.
In December, President Joe Biden signed the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act, which limits how much personally identifiable information about federal judges can be seen in federal databases. It also restricts the resale of this information by data aggregators.
The law is named after the late son of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas.
In July 2020, a self-described “anti-feminist” lawyer posed as a delivery man when he went to the Salas’ home in New Jersey and fatally shot Daniel, who was celebrating his 20th birthday.
The gunman, Roy Den Hollander, shot Salas’ husband multiple times, seriously wounding him. The judge, who was in the basement of the home at the time, was not injured.
Hollander, who had gathered personal information about Salas from the Internet after appearing before her in the case, died later that day by suicide.