Order Code RL33464
Judicial Security: Responsibilities
and Current Issues
Updated April 7, 2008
Lorraine H. Tong
Analyst in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
Judicial Security: Responsibilities and Current Issues
The importance of judicial security was underscored by the murders of family
members of a Chicago federal judge on February 28, 2005, and the killings less than two
weeks later of a state judge, a court reporter, and a sheriff’s deputy in an Atlanta
courthouse. Shortly after these incidents, the House and the Senate held hearings and
legislation was introduced to (among other things) improve courtroom security for
judicial officers; safeguard judges and their families at home; restrict postings of
personal information about judicial officers and their families on the Internet; extend or
make permanent the authority to redact certain information from judicial officers,
judicial employees, and their families’ financial disclosure forms; and increase penalties
for attacks against them and other law enforcement personnel. Although several judicial
security bills were introduced in the House and Senate in the 109th Congress, the security
provisions enacted were in an appropriations act (P.L. 109-13), which included funding
for intrusion detection alarms in judges’ homes. Early in the 110th Congress, the
chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees introduced H.R. 660 and S.
378, the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007, companion bills similar to the bills
introduced in the previous Congress. H.R. 660 was referred to three committees:
Judiciary, Ways and Means, and Oversight and Government Reform. Following the
May 3, 2007, hearing on H.R. 660 by the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism,
and Homeland Security, the House Judiciary Committee held a markup and amended
the bill on June 13, 2007, and reported it on July 10, 2007. On that same day, the other
two House committees were discharged from the bill, and the House passed H.R. 660.
After a February 14, 2007, hearing on judicial security and independence, the Senate
Judiciary Committee approved S. 378 on March 1, 2007, and reported the bill on March
29, 2007. On April 19, 2007, the Senate passed S. 378. After resolving differences
between the House and Senate versions, the Senate passed H.R. 660, as amended, on
December 17, 2007, by unanimous consent. Two days later, the House approved the
amended bill by voice vote. On January 7, 2008, the President signed H.R. 660 into law
(P.L. 110-177). Congress also passed H.R. 1130, the Judicial Disclosure Responsibility
Act, to extend the authority of the Judicial Conference (through 2009) to redact certain
personal information of judicial officers, employees, and their families from financial
disclosure statements. On May 3, 2007, the President signed H.R. 1130 (P.L. 110-24).
Both federal and state judicial entities have addressed judicial security concerns.
By statute, the United States Marshals Service (USMS) within the Department of Justice
has primary responsibility for the security of the judiciary. USMS works closely with
the Judicial Conference of the United States, the Administrative Office of the United
States Courts, and the Federal Protective Service within the Department of Homeland
Security. Concerns have been raised, however, about the staffing of, and the
communication and coordination between, these offices. The Judicial Conference has,
among other things, encouraged newly appointed judges to provide personal information
to USMS, and urged USMS to provide additional training to marshals and inspectors.
The National Center for the State Courts issued a document intended to serve as a
framework for state judicial security, and has held two summits on court safety and
security. Federal court security funding is currently provided under two appropriations
bills, one for the judiciary and one for USMS. Related issues that may receive
congressional consideration or oversight are funding and staff resources, communication
and consultation, and federal/state collaboration. This report will be updated as events
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Judicial Security Responsibilities and Jurisdiction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Legislative Action in the 110th Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
House Legislation and Committee Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Senate Legislation and Committee Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
House and Senate Passage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Legislation Enacted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Judicial Security Budget: FY2008 and FY2009 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
House and Senate Subcommittee Appropriations Hearings . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Judicial Conference Actions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Actions by the National Center for the State Courts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Concluding Observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Appendix. Legislation in the 109th Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Legislation Enacted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
House Legislation and Hearing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Senate Legislation and Hearing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Judicial Security: Responsibilities and
Although the security of all federal buildings increased in the wake of the April
1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the
September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the importance of judicial security was brought
to the nation’s attention by reports of the murders of family members of a Chicago
federal judge on February 28, 2005,1 and the killings less than two weeks later of a
state judge, a court reporter, and a sheriff’s deputy in an Atlanta courthouse.2 In June
2006, a sniper shot a state judge in Reno, Nevada, through the window of the judge’s
office.3 Press accounts have also described other threats and violence directed at the
judiciary.4 Supreme Court Justices were also intended targets of violence. In March
2006, the public learned about death threats made against Supreme Court Justices in
2005.5 In November 2006, it was revealed that home-baked cookies infused with rat
poison had been mailed to all nine Justices in 2005; and, according to the media
report, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was quoted as saying that “each one contained
enough poison to kill the entire membership of the court.”6 According to the U.S.
Marshals Service (USMS), there were 1,145 inappropriate communications made
against federal judges, U.S. attorneys, and other USMS protectees, compared to 679
David Heinzmann and Jeff Coen, “Federal judge’s family killed; Husband, mother found
slain in basement,” Chicago Tribune, March 1, 2005, p. 1.
James Oliphant, “More Killings Raise Court Safety Fears,” Legal Times, March 14, 2005,
vol. 28, p. 1.
Scott Sonner, “Police Seek Suspect in Shooting of Nevada Judge, Later Slaying Across
Town,” The Associated Press, June 13, 2006 [http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=
See, for example, Amanda Paulson and Patrik Jonsson, “How judges cope with everyday
threats on the job,” Christian Science Monitor, March 4, 2005, p. 1.
Bill Mears, “Justice Ginsburg details death threat,” CNN, March 15, 2006
Kevin Bohn, “O’Connor details half-baked attempt to kill Supreme Court,” CNN,
November 17, 2006 [http://www.cnn.com/2006/LAW/11/17/court.cookies/index.html].
Based on information USMS provided to the author on March 21 and 24, 2008. According
to the USMS Office of Protective Intelligence, an “inappropriate communication” is defined
as “any communication made either in writing (including e-mail), by telephone, verbally,
through an informant, or otherwise suspicious activity that threatens, harasses, or makes
unsettling overtures of an improper nature directed at a protectee, which by definition
In his 2005 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, issued on January 1,
2006, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., expressed concern about the murders in
Chicago and Atlanta:
These attacks underscored the need for all branches of government, state and
federal, to improve safety and security for judges and judicial employees, both
within and outside courthouses. We see emerging democracies around the world
struggle to establish court systems in which judges can apply the rule of law free
from the threat of violence; we must take every step to ensure that our own
judges, to whom so much of the world looks as models of independence, never
face violent attack for carrying out their duties.8
Then-U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales voiced similar sentiments
when he spoke at the Conference for Chief United States District Judges on April 14,
The Department of Justice and the Marshals Service will continue to work to
ensure that threats to federal judges are quickly assessed and appropriate
measures are taken. We will not accept that a judge is intimidated or threatened
in any way in discharging his or her obligation to faithfully interpret the law. To
that end, I have directed a review of judicial security measures be undertaken so
that the Department, as well as state and local enforcement, can benefit from a
compilation of best practices from across the nation.9
During the 109th Congress, the House and Senate held hearings, and several
Members of Congress introduced legislation to (among other things) improve
security for judicial officers in the courtrooms; safeguard judges and their families
at home; restrict postings of personal information about judicial officers and their
families on the Internet; extend or make permanent the authority to redact certain
information from judges’ and their families’ financial disclosure forms; and increase
penalties for acts against court officials and other law enforcement personnel.10 The
bills were H.R. 1710, H.R. 1751, H.R. 4311, H.R. 4472, H.R. 4732, S. 1558, S. 1605,
S. 1968, and S. 3835. No final action was taken on these bills prior to the
adjournment of the 109th Congress, although legislation was enacted (H.R. 1268, P.L.
109-13) that included a provision to appropriate funds for intrusion detection alarms
warrants further investigation. Threats are included in the term inappropriate
communication. Thus, all threats are inappropriate communications, but not all
inappropriate communications are threats.” In addition to U.S. Supreme Court Justices and
federal judges, other protectees the USMS may protect are Tax Court judges, U.S. deputy
attorney general, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, U.S. Attorneys
and Assistant U.S. Attorneys, federal public defenders, clerk of courts, probation officers,
pre-trial services officers, U.S. trustees, jurors, witnesses, and USMS employees.
See [http://www.supremecourtus.gov/publicinfo/year-end/2005year-endreport.pdf] for the
text of the Chief Justice’s 2005 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary.
See [http://www.usdoj.gov/ag/speeches/2005/agremarksccusdj.htm] for the text of the
attorney general’s speech.
See Appendix for details about legislation in the 109th Congress.
in judges’ homes. Another bill, S. 2766, did not originally include court security
provisions, but such provisions were adopted by the Senate as an amendment.11
Early in the 110th Congress, the chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary
Committees introduced companion judicial security bills similar to those that were
introduced, but not enacted, in the previous Congress. The companion bills are H.R.
660 and S. 378.12 Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, in remarks
to introduce S. 378, said that the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007 is
a consensus measure with bipartisan support nearly identical to the bill we
passed in the Senate last December. House Judiciary Chairman Conyers is
introducing an identical measure in the House with bipartisan support. This bicameral, bi-partisan introduction sends a strong message that we intend finally
to finish this difficult struggle and enact this bill that should have been enacted
months ago to increase protections for the dedicated women and men throughout
the Judiciary in this country. This is an important issue, and one I plan to make
a priority in this Congress.13
The House and Senate committees of jurisdiction held hearings on judicial
security. After a February 14, 2007, hearing on judicial security and independence,
the Senate Judiciary Committee approved S. 378 on March 1, 2007, and reported the
bill on March 29, 2007. H.R. 660 was referred to three committees: Judiciary, Ways
and Means, and Oversight and Government Reform. Following the May 3, 2007,
hearing on H.R. 660 by the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and
Homeland Security, the House Judiciary Committee held a markup and amended the
bill on June 13, 2007, and reported it on July 10, 2007. On the same day, the other
two House committees were discharged from the bill.
The Senate passed S. 378 on April 19, 2007, and the House passed H.R. 660 on
July 10, 2007. The Senate received H.R. 660 on July 11, 2007, and on August 3,
2007, the bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
After resolving differences between the House and Senate versions, the Senate
passed H.R. 660, as amended, on December 17, 2007, by unanimous consent. The
House approved the amended bill by voice vote two days later on December 19, 2007.
On January 7, 2008, the President signed H.R. 660 into law (P.L. 110-177).
Prior to the enactment of H.R. 660, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John
Conyers Jr. introduced H.R. 1130, the Judicial Disclosure Responsibility Act, to
extend through 2009 the authority of the Judicial Conference to redact certain
The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2007, H.R. 5122, did
not contain similar court security provisions. Ultimately, the conference report was adopted,
and H.R. 5122 was signed into law without the court security provisions.
For a legal analysis of these two bills, see CRS Report RL33884, Court Security
Improvement Act of 2007: A Legal Analysis of H.R. 660/S. 378, by Charles Doyle.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, “S. 378. A bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to protect
judges, prosecutors, witnesses, victims, and their family members, and for other purposes,”
remarks in the Senate, Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 153, January 24, 2007, p.
personal information of judicial officers, judicial employees, and their families from
financial disclosure statements. The House and Senate passed H.R. 1130, and the
President signed the bill into law (P.L. 110-24) on May 3, 2007. P.L. 110-177
extended the redaction authority through 2011.
This report discusses the current framework for federal judicial security,
legislative efforts in the 110th Congress14 to improve judicial security, other proposals
for reform, as well as the FY2008 appropriation and FY2009 budget request for
Judicial Security Responsibilities and Jurisdiction
As the Chief Justice suggested in his 2005 annual report, all three branches of
the federal government play unique roles in helping to ensure the safety of judges and
the security of the federal courts. In this joint effort, the role of Congress is to
authorize programs, appropriate funds, and provide oversight of judicial security.
The Judicial Conference of the United States16 — the principal policymaking body
of the federal judiciary — governs the administration of the U.S. courts. The Judicial
Conference’s Committee on Judicial Security monitors the security of the judiciary
(including protection of court facilities and proceedings, judicial officers, and court
staff at federal court facilities and other locations), and makes policy
recommendations to the conference. As the central support entity for the judicial
branch, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) implements Judicial
Conference policies, including security matters.
By statute,17 the United States Marshals Service (USMS) within the Department
of Justice (DOJ) has primary responsibility for the security of the judiciary, including
the safe conduct of court proceedings, and the security of federal judges and court
personnel at court facilities and off-site. USMS also provides protective details for
judges and others who are targets of threats and attacks, and provides other law
enforcement services for DOJ.18 Within USMS, the Judicial Security Division (JSD)
is specifically responsible for providing security services and staff support for the
federal judiciary, including personal protection for judges and physical security of
For more information on judicial security bills in the 109th and 110th Congresses, see CRS
Report RL33473, Judicial Security: Comparison of Legislation in the 110th Congress, by
See Appendix for details about judicial security legislation considered in the 109th
The Chief Justice of the United States is the presiding officer of the Judicial Conference.
28 U.S.C. §566(a).
For example, USMS is also responsible for (1) providing protection for witnesses who
testify for the government in cases involving organized crime and other significant criminal
activity, (2) transporting criminal defendants to and from court appearances, (3) arranging
for space in detention facilities to house pre-sentenced criminals, and (4) managing and
disposing of forfeited properties acquired by criminals through illegal activities. For more
information, see [http://www.usmarshals.gov/duties].
federal courthouses. According to USMS, over 2,000 sitting judges and other court
officials at more than 400 court facilities nationwide are under its protection.19 An
appointed U.S. marshal, confirmed by the Senate, has security responsibility in each
of the 94 federal judicial districts and the District of Columbia Superior Court.
District U.S. marshals provide and oversee security of the judiciary using USMS
resources and court security officers (CSO), who are employees of private security
companies under contract with USMS. Over 4,500 CSOs provide various types of
security (e.g., fixed posts, roving patrols, entry screening, and mail and packages
screening) in courthouses and at multi-tenant facilities.20 Also under USMS
jurisdiction is the design, installation, and maintenance of security systems, and
oversight of the communications equipment.
USMS conducts threat assessments when the threats are directed against
individuals (e.g., federal judges, U.S. attorneys, court staff, and family members),
then determines the level of security that is necessary for developing security plans
and assigning the required resources to ensure their safety. A deputy marshal is
required to attend any session of court at the request of the presiding judge.21 A
judicial security inspector (a senior-level deputy marshal) is assigned to each judicial
district to evaluate courthouse security and procedures, and to coordinate scheduling,
posting, and other matters related to CSOs. The inspectors also conduct security
surveys at judges’ homes and recommend improvements. To enhance its capability
to strengthen protection of the judiciary, on June 1, 2004, USMS established the
Office of Protective Intelligence (OPI) to review and analyze intelligence information
about the security of those under USMS protection. On a daily basis, OPI issues
security advisories, intelligence bulletins, and law enforcement alerts to USMS
district offices and senior staff at headquarters so that protective measures can be
taken.22 When threats are made, USMS works with the Federal Bureau of
Among the services the USMS Judicial Security Division provided the federal
judiciary during FY2007 were the following:
Other space in the court facilities under the control of USMS includes holding cells
adjacent to courtrooms, interview rooms used by attorneys and prisoners, cellblocks,
prisoner elevators, and office space for USMS use.
According to USMS, CSOs must pass a comprehensive screening process to ensure they
meet specific background, physical, medical, and weapons qualification standards. Many
have law enforcement experience.
As federal law enforcement officers, deputy marshals have other responsibilities,
including criminal investigations, fugitive apprehension, witness protection, prisoner
transportation, and executing court orders.
Office of Congressional Affairs, USMS, telephone conversation with author, May 31,
USMS conducts investigations related to the protective actions, and the FBI has
responsibility for investigating threats for prosecutorial purposes.
Opened the Threat Management Center, which provides 24/7
response capability for intake and review of threats against the
Established the National Center for Judicial Security on March 30,
2007. The center provides a wide range of services and support to
federal, state local and international jurisdictions as they seek advice
and assistance on judicial security. It initiates programs and
activities directly related to threat assessment, training, information
sharing and technology review.
Provided protective investigations training to 100 deputy U.S
marshals and judicial security inspectors.
Launched a $5.3 million initiative to replace closed circuit television
videocassette recorders with state-of-the-art digital recorders at more
than 200 courthouses.
Provided guidance and oversight for over 1,145 protective
Coordinated with district offices and General Services
Administration for 160 architectural designs and review projects,
and 385 construction and security projects within USMS space.
Conducted feasibility study of seven primary courthouse facilities to
examine cost implications of assuming perimeter security
Increased by seven the number of judicial security inspectors for a
total of 101 inspectors.
Protected Supreme Court justices on 172 occasions.
Coordinated security for 137 judicial conferences. 24
The Federal Protective Service (FPS) within the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) has overall responsibility for security in General Services
Administration (GSA)-managed, multi-tenant federal buildings.25 When those
buildings include court facilities, USMS and FPS share security responsibilities,26
U.S. Dept. of Justice, United States Marshals Service, “Fact Sheet: Judicial Security,”
USMS Pub. No. 21-D, Revised December 3, 2007 (Washington, 2007), pp. 1-2. Available
FPS was transferred from GSA to the DHS pursuant to the act to establish the Department
of Homeland Security, P.L. 107-296 (6 U.S.C. 203, Sec. 403).
A 75% judicial occupancy rule was developed to help define what constitutes a primary
courthouse versus a multi-tenant facility housing federal court operations. Under this rule,
authorized by a series of memoranda of agreement (MOA) between GSA and DOJ.27
When the court is the sole tenant in a GSA-managed building, USMS has primary
responsibility for security, although FPS may provide some support for the perimeter
security, or may delegate that responsibility to USMS. How the responsibilities are
shared varies on a case-by-case basis depending on the differing requirements of
tenants, functions, and locations of occupied space. These shared responsibilities and
jurisdictions at individual court-occupied buildings are further determined by
agreement (sometimes in writing), and coordinated to avoid duplication. Generally,
USMS is responsible for and controls judicial space and access to it, while FPS is
primarily responsible for perimeter security and for other interior space that is not
court-related space. FPS conducts risk assessment of multi-tenant buildings to deter
threats and take countermeasures. Uniformed FPS officers and hired contract guards
(similar to CSOs) protect the buildings, their assets, and investigate crime at the
facilities. Other than perimeter responsibilities, FPS duties may include visitor entry
processing, roving patrols, garage access control, and mail and package screening.28
To protect the judiciary, the principal entities communicate and coordinate at
the national and district levels. At the national level, the Judicial Conference’s
Committee on Judicial Security coordinates security issues involving the federal
courts with USMS, DOJ, and DHS. According to USMS, the Marshals Service
works with AOUSC Office of Court Security and the Office of Facilities and Security
a primary courthouse has one or more judges in residence, and at least one courtroom where
the court and court-related activities occupy 75% or more of the rentable square footage.
A 1997 MOA between the GSA, USMS, and AOUSC defined each agency’s area of
responsibility for judicial security. According to the MOA, the three parties recognize that
a cooperative effort is needed to provide the federal courts with the necessary security. This
MOA stated, “The requirements of this joint effort are delineated in the March, 1982,
‘Report of the Attorney General’s Task Force on Security’; the March 1982, ‘Joint
Statement of the Chief Justice and the Attorney General before the Judicial Conference of
the United States’; the December 1982, Delegation of Procurement Authority from GSA to
the Department of Justice (DOJ); the June 1995, DOJ report entitled ‘Vulnerability
Assessment of Federal Facilities’; and the 1997 Delegation of Authority from GSA to DOJ
delegating USMS authority to determine and provide the appropriate level of perimeter
access control at all GSA-controlled facilities that house a judicial officer.” When FPS was
transferred from GSA to DHS in 2003, the MOA was reaffirmed by a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) which stated that the terms of the 1997 MOA would continue
without interruption with DHS assuming the responsibilities transferred from GSA. Parties
to the MOU were DOJ, DHS, and AOUSC (signed by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft
on November 20, 2003, then-director of AOUSC Leonidas R. Mecham on November 21,
2003, and then-Secretary of DHS Tom Ridge on January 21, 2004).
Among FPS protective and security capabilities are (1) specialized response capabilities
(e.g., canine, hazardous materials, and weapons of mass destruction response teams); (2)
intelligence-sharing and investigative collaboration with law enforcement agencies at local,
state, and federal levels; (3) key participation in federal anti-terrorism task forces; and (4)
continuous monitoring of facility alarms and emergencies through FPS remote dispatch
control centers. See [http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/programView.do?programId=
95&ooid=11911&channelId=-12951] for more information about FPS.
on a daily basis, and the Committee on Judicial Security also consults and
coordinates over national and district-level security matters. At semi-annual
meetings, the Committee on Judicial Security and USMS senior management discuss
security, legal, and budget issues. USMS and AOUSC also hold several working
sessions prior to quarterly review meetings with the AOUSC associate director.
Issues discussed at the meetings include purchase and installation of security systems,
CSO staffing, and budget matters. At the local level, U.S. marshals routinely meet
with the district chief judge at court security committee meetings comprising
representatives from the magistrate, district, and bankruptcy courts (and may include
circuit judges and U.S. attorneys) to review and implement security plans. In
addition, AOUSC and USMS consult on security considerations (e.g., design and
installation of security systems) in the construction of new or renovated courthouses.
There have been concerns over the years, however, about adequate staffing,
threat assessment capabilities, and consultation between USMS and AOUSC to
protect the judiciary. The DOJ inspector general (IG)29 issued a report in 2004
recommending that USMS, among other things, (1) ensure that all threats to the
judiciary are assessed within established time frames; (2) update its historical threat
database; (3) assign full-time representatives to all FBI field offices and ensure
effective liaison with intelligence agencies; and (4) create a centralized capability30
to identify, collect, analyze, and share intelligence with USMS districts and other
offices. These concerns were raised at congressional hearings held in 2005,31 and
consultation between USMS and AOUSC was included as a provision in some of the
legislation discussed below. In testimony before the House and Senate
Subcommittees on Financial Services and General Government on March 21, 2007,
Judge Julia S. Gibbons, chair of the Judicial Conference Budget Committee, raised
concerns regarding the cost and quality of FPS security services to protect court
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, Review of the United States
Marshals Service Judicial Security Process, Report Number I-2004-004 (Washington, DC:
OPI, as mentioned above, was created within three months after the IG report was issued.
U.S. Congress, House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism,
and Homeland Security, Secure Access to Justice and Court Protection Act of 2005, hearing
on H.R. 1751, 109th Cong., 1st sess., April 26, 2005 (Washington: GPO, 2005), and U.S.
Congress, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Protecting the Judiciary at Home and in the
Courthouse,” hearing, 109th Cong., lst sess., May 18, 2005, S. Hrg. 109-57 (Washington:
Statement of Honorable Julia S. Gibbons, Chair, Committee on the Budget of the Judicial
Conference of the United States Before the Subcommittee on Financial Services and
General Government of the Committee of Appropriations of the United States Senate,
21, 2007, pp. 9-10, see [http://www.uscourts.gov/testimony/
GibbonsSenate32107.pdf]. Hereafter cited as Judge Gibbons’ March 21, 2007, Statement.
Legislative Action in the 110th Congress
During the first month of the 110th Congress, the chairmen of the House and
Senate Judiciary Committees introduced the Court Security Improvement Act of
2007 — H.R. 660 and S. 378, respectively.33 The companion bills reflect the core
provisions of legislation introduced, but not enacted, in the 109th Congress to address
judicial security issues.
H.R. 660 was referred to three committees: Judiciary, Ways and Means, and
Oversight and Government Reform. Following the May 3, 2007, hearing on H.R.
660 by the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, the
House Judiciary Committee held a markup and amended the bill on June 13, 2007,
and reported the bill on July 10, 2007. On that same day, the other two House
committees were discharged from the bill, and the House passed H.R. 660 by voice
vote. After a February 14, 2007, hearing on judicial security and independence, the
Senate Judiciary Committee approved S. 378 on March 1, 2007, and reported the bill
on March 29, 2007.
Among other things, both H.R. 660 and S. 378 (as introduced and as passed by
each House) call for (1) requiring the director of USMS to consult with the Judicial
Conference of the United States on a continuing basis to ensure that the conference’s
views on security requirements for the judicial branch are taken into account when
determining staffing levels, setting priorities for security programs, and allocating
judicial security resources; (2) extending authority of the Judicial Conference to
redact certain personal information from financial disclosure reports filed by judicial
officers, judicial employees, and their family members by amending the Ethics in
Government Act of 1978; (3) authorizing funds for USMS to hire deputy marshals;
(4) imposing fines or imprisonment (for not more than 10 years), or both, for filing
false liens against federal judges or law enforcement officers; (5) authorizing grants
to states, local governments, and Indian tribes for witness and victim protection
programs; (6) prohibiting dangerous weapons in federal courthouses; and (7)
requiring the Attorney General to submit to the House and Senate Judiciary
Committees, no later than 90 days after the date of enactment of the legislation, a
report on the security of assistant U.S. attorneys and other federal attorneys arising
from the prosecution of terrorists, violent criminal gangs, drug traffickers, gun
traffickers, white supremacists, those who commit fraud and other white-collar
offenses, and other criminal cases. In addition, the bills call for USMS to expand its
protective responsibilities to the U.S. Tax Court. Other provisions concerned the
assignment of senior judges, and the appointment of magistrates.
The Senate passed S. 378 by a vote of 97-0 on April 19, 2007. After resolving
differences, the Senate and the House passed H.R. 660, as amended in late 2007. The
President signed the bill into law (P.L. 110-177) on January 7, 2008.
A third bill, H.R. 1130, the Judicial Disclosure Responsibility Act, was
introduced to extend through 2009 the authority of the Judicial Conference to redact
For a legal analysis of these two bills, see CRS Report RL33884, Court Security
Improvement Act of 2007: A Legal Analysis of H.R. 660/S. 378, by Charles Doyle.
certain personal information of judicial officers, judicial employees, and their
families from financial disclosure statements. The President signed the bill into law
(P.L. 110-24) on May 3, 2007. P.L. 110-177 extended the redaction authority
House Legislation and Committee Action
H.R. 660. On January 24, 2007, House Judiciary Committee Chairman
Conyers introduced (for himself and Representatives Louie Gohmert and Robert C.
Scott) H.R. 660, the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007. H.R. 660 was
referred to the House Judiciary Committee and, in addition, to the Committees on
Ways and Means, and Oversight and Government Reform (for a period to be
subsequently determined by the Speaker of the House, in each case for consideration
of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned).
On May 3, 2007, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and
Homeland Security held a hearing on the bill. Subcommittee Chairman Robert C.
Scott expressed concern about the rise in violence against justices and judges, and
stressed the importance of enhancing judicial security. He highlighted provisions of
H.R. 660 that (1) call for greater consultation between the USMS and the Judicial
Conference of the United States to ensure that the conference’s views are considered
when staffing levels and priorities for security programs and allocation of resources
are determined; (2) authorize adequate resources for the USMS, including $20
million over five years to hire new deputy marshals to investigate threats and provide
protective details for judges and U.S. attorneys; and (3) authorize $100 million (over
five fiscal years) to provide grants to state and local governments to expand and
create witness protection programs.34 The ranking minority member noted that the
bill did not provide for the protection of law enforcement officers. He added,
however, that other legislative efforts were being made to address these concerns.
Stating that there was “a dire need to provide basic security services in the courtroom
and for witnesses” at the state and local level, the ranking minority member said,
“H.R. 660 represents a good first step in that direction. But, in my view, there is
more we can and should do to address this problem.”35
The subcommittee received testimony from Judge Robert M. Bell, chief judge
of the Maryland Court of Appeals; Judge David B. Sentelle, chairman of the Judicial
Conference Committee on Judicial Security; and John F. Clark, director of USMS,
to hear their views on H.R. 660 and issues related to judicial security. Judge Bell,
testifying on behalf of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State
Court Administrators,36 expressed support for adding provisions to the bill, namely,
Statement of Chairman Scott, “House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and
Homeland Security Holds Hearing on H.R. 660, The Court Security Improvement Act of
2007.” Congressional Transcripts, Congressional Hearings, Congressional Quarterly, May
3, 2007, pp. 1-2. Hereafter cited as May 3, 2007, House hearing on H.R. 660.
Statement of Rep. J. Randy Forbes, May 3, 2007, House hearing on H.R. 660, pp. 2-3.
According to the judge, the conferences’ membership consists of the highest judicial
the creation of a new federal grant program that would enhance state court security
by conducting assessments and implementing improvements based on those
assessments. He also urged that the highest state court in states and territories be
eligible to apply for federal funds, and that state and local courts be eligible to apply
directly for discretionary federal funding.37
Expressing support for H.R. 660, Judge Sentelle stated that “this bill will
contribute significantly to the security of federal judges and their families.” He
indicated that “great strides” in consultation between USMS and the conference had
been made with regard to the installation of home detection systems in judges’
homes, but that such consultation needed to be formalized in statute (so that such
consultations in the future do not rely on the individuals currently serving in those
positions). To illustrate the level of ongoing interaction, he said, “Director Clark and
I are on the phone or in person together sometimes several times a week, sometimes
for days at a time and in remote locations and technical centers in other parts of the
country.” Judge Sentelle also stressed the importance of redaction authority for
judges’ sensitive information in financial disclosure forms. In written testimony, he
expressed support that the authority be made permanent (not terminated on December
31, 2009, as provided for in the bill and in H.R. 1130, discussed further below), and,
if the House and Senate did not agree to grant permanent authority, he requested that
redaction authority be extended until December 31, 2011.38
officers and state court administrators in each of the 50 states; the District of Columbia; the
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; the Northern Mariana Islands; and the Territories of
American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. The National Center for State Courts
serves as the secretariat for the conferences and also provides services to state court leaders
throughout the nation.
Testimony of Judge Bell, May 3, 2007, House hearing on H.R. 660, pp. 5-6. See
[http://judiciary.house.gov/media/pdfs/Bell070503.pdf] for Judge Bell’s written testimony.
Testimony of Judge Sentelle, May 3, 2007, House hearing on H.R. 660, pp. 7-9. Among
issues addressed in written testimony, the judge stated that the conference does not take a
position on whether USMS should be required to protect the U.S. Tax Court (as provided
for in Sec. 104 of the bill). He expressed concern that USMS resources to protect the
federal judiciary could be strained if funds were not provided for this purpose, and
suggested that USMS protective services for the U.S. Tax Court be reimbursed by that court.
He further suggested, “If the Committee believes it is necessary to provide expanded
protection to the U.S. Tax Court, we respectfully request that the provision be more
narrowly tailored, replacing the phrase ‘any other court’ with ‘U.S. Tax Court’” (as so
amended in the Senate bill, S. 378). Also on behalf of the conference, Judge Sentelle stated
opposition to a provision (Sec. 504) to amend the Federal Magistrates Act by mandating that
senior judges have the right to vote on candidates for magistrate judge positions (along with
active district judges of the court) because such a change would “unduly restrict the
flexibility of district courts in this area.”
[http://judiciary.house.gov/media/pdfs/Sentelle070503.pdf] for Judge Sentelle’s written
Director Clark said that H.R. 660 would “go a long way in helping the
Marshal[s] Service provide the absolute best security for our judicial families.”39
Although not a provision in the bill, the issue of USMS’s ability to issue
administrative subpoenas was raised. Director Clark expressed the view that
“administrative subpoena authority would be of great value” to USMS and “we are
one agency that I believe needs it and should have it and would be very responsible
if we did have it.”40
The upgrade of security in old courthouses, and authority for judges to carry
firearms in courthouses (not provided for in H.R. 660), was also discussed at the
hearing. Judge Sentelle expressed the Judicial Conference’s position in favor of
allowing judges to carry firearms, but the conference would prefer to see such
authority be addressed in a separate bill, so that H.R. 660 would “not be bogged
down by provisions that might be more controversial than what is in there now.”41
Following the subcommittee markup of H.R. 660 on June 6, 2007, the House
Judiciary Committee held a markup on the bill on June 13, 2007. The committee
approved the bill, as amended in the nature of a substitute, and ordered it reported to
the House. The substitute amendment provided for: (1) expanding prohibition of
published personal information of a judge in the bill to include state and local law
enforcement officials, witnesses, and paid informants; (2) making permanent the
redaction authority of sensitive personal information in financial disclosure reports
filed by judicial officers, judicial employees, and their families; (3) increasing
statutory maximum criminal penalties related to assaulting judges; and (4) directing
the U.S. attorney general to study whether the public’s general access to state and
local records may be harmful to the safety of a judge.42
Two other amendments were proposed and discussed at the committee markup.
One amendment would have granted discretionary authority to federal appellate and
district court judges (with certain safeguards for due process rights and measures to
protect non-party witnesses and jurors) to allow media coverage of court proceedings.
Another amendment would have permitted judges and prosecutors to carry firearms.
Both amendments were withdrawn after the committee chairman stated his intention
to hold hearings on both issues in order to give each matter further examination.43
The House Judiciary Committee reported the bill as amended (H.Rept. 110-218)
on July 10, 2007. On the same day, the House Ways and Means and the Oversight
and Government Reform Committees discharged H.R. 660 from their respective
Testimony of Director Clark, May 3, 2007, House hearing on H.R. 660, p. 7. See
[http://judiciary.house.gov/media/pdfs/Clark070503.pdf] for Director Clark’s written
Ibid., p. 17.
Testimony of Judge Sentelle, May 3, 2007, House hearing on H.R. 660, p. 14.
Based on June 13, 2007, markup transcripts of H.R. 660 on the House Judiciary
Committee’s website, available at [http://judiciary.house.gov/Printshop.aspx?Section=498],
pp. 66-68, and 94-95.
Ibid., pp. 72, 85-86, and 93-94.
committees, and paved the way for the House to bring it to the floor under suspension
of the rules. Later that day, the House passed H.R. 660 by voice vote under
suspension of the rules. The Senate received H.R. 660 the next day, and on August
3, 2007, the bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
H.R. 1130. On February 16, 2007, House Judiciary Committee Chairman
Conyers introduced (for himself and six original cosponsors) H.R. 1130, the Judicial
Disclosure Responsibility Act. H.R. 1130 would amend the Ethics in Government
Act of 1978 to extend through 2009 the authority of the Judicial Conference to redact
certain personal information (e.g., residences) about judicial officers and judicial
employees in financial disclosure reports which could expose them to potential harm.
The bill would also restrict such information about their family members from
similar disclosure.44 The provisions of H.R. 660 and S. 378, as introduced, to extend
redaction authority were contained in this bill. The committee approved the bill by
voice vote on February 28, 2007, and it was ordered to be reported. On March 20,
2007, it was reported (H.Rept. 110-59) and the House passed H.R. 1130 (415-0)45 the
next day under suspension of the rules. The Senate received the bill on March 22,
2007, and it was referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Committee. The Senate discharged the bill from committee by unanimous consent
on April 19, 2007, and passed it by unanimous consent on the same day. On May 3,
2007, the President signed the bill into law (P.L. 110-24).
Senate Legislation and Committee Action
S. 378. On January 24, 2007, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy
introduced (for himself and for Senators Arlen Specter, Harry Reid, John Cornyn,
Edward M. Kennedy, Susan M. Collins, Orrin G. Hatch, and Charles E. Schumer) S.
378, the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007. The bill was referred to the
Senate Judiciary Committee. On February 14, 2007, the Senate Judiciary Committee
held a hearing on “Judicial Security and Independence.” Chairman Leahy said he
wished that court security legislation had been enacted last year, and noted that it was
a bipartisan measure and a bicameral effort. The chairman said the following:
We cannot tolerate or excuse violence against judges, and no one should seek to
minimize its corrosive damage to our system. Congress should rise to the
occasion without further delay or distraction and enact the Court Security
Improvement Act. These protections are crucial to the preservation of the
During the committee markup, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., offered an amendment
to make the redaction permanent. According to Rep. Sensenbrenner’s statement in the
committee report, there was support for the amendment but it was not adopted in order to
expedite sending the measure to the Senate (which reportedly had oversight concerns).
Discussions during the markup indicated that a permanent redaction would be considered
later (when the court security bill is considered). U.S. Congress, House Committee on the
Judiciary, Judicial Disclosure Responsibility Act, report to accompany H.R. 1130, 110th
Cong., 1st sess., H.Rept. 110-59 (Washington: GPO, 2007), p. 11.
On March 8, 2007, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that “enacting H.R. 1130
would have no significant impact on the federal budget.” U.S. Congressional Budget Office,
“Cost Estimate: H.R. 1130, Judicial Disclosure Responsibility Act” (Washington, DC:
March 8, 2007), p. 1. Available at [http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/78xx/doc7853/hr1130.pdf].
independence of our federal Judiciary so that it can continue to serve as a
bulwark protecting individual rights and liberty. Our Nation’s founders knew
that without an independent Judiciary to protect individual rights from the
political branches of government, those rights and privileges would not be
preserved. The courts are the ultimate check and balance in our system of
government in times of heated political rhetoric. In recent years, Justice Sandra
Day O’Connor has spoken out against the attacks on the Judiciary and the need
to reinforce its security and independence. She continues to lend her voice to
this important topic even after stepping down from the bench.46
Ranking Member Specter and several members of the committee also stated
their strong support for improving judicial security and for making the passage of the
court security bill a priority. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy testified
on the subject of judicial independence.47 Justice Kennedy and others on the
committee expressed the view that the security of the judiciary is vital to judicial
independence. Some emphasized that security means not only physical safety for
judges, but also safety from verbal attacks against the judiciary that can have harmful
In submitted testimony, Judge D. Brock Hornby, representing the Judicial
Conference, expressed support for S. 378 and provided the views of the conference
on several provisions of S. 378. Judge Hornby stated, “When enacted, this bill will
contribute significantly to the security of federal judges and their families.”48
USMS funding and the role it plays in protecting the judiciary were also
discussed at the hearing. John Clark, director of USMS, submitted testimony in
which he related that he had personally met with the chief judges and judicial security
inspectors in many of the 94 judicial districts around the country to discuss the
security needs of each district, in the courthouses and in the judges’ residences. He
also indicated he had many productive meetings with AOUSC Director James Duff.49
U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, “Statement of The Honorable Patrick
Leahy” (Washington, DC: February 14, 2007.) Available at [http://judiciary.senate.gov/
U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, “Testimony of The Honorable
Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court “ (Washington, DC:
February 14, 2007).
Available at [http://judiciary.senate.gov/testimony.cfm?id=
U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, “Testimony of The Honorable D.
Brock Hornby, Judge, United States District Court,” (Washington, DC: February 14, 2007.
Available at [http://judiciary.senate.gov/testimony.cfm?id=2526&wit_id=6071].
In addition to reporting on the near completion of the installation of home detection
systems in judges’ homes, USMS Director Clark discussed the reorganization of the Judicial
Security Division (JSD) in November 2006, which reflects two mission-oriented
components: Judicial Operations and Judicial Services. The first component includes an
expanded Office of Protective Intelligence (OPI) with 10 new criminal investigators and one
intelligence specialist to provide threat response capabilities 24 hours a day, seven days a
week, and to analyze and investigate all threats to the federal judiciary. According to the
director, in FY2006, JSD investigated 1,100 judicial threats, handled 230 personal
On March 1, 2007, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved S. 378 with an
amendment by voice vote, and it was ordered to be reported.50 On March 29, 2007,
it was reported (S.Rept. 110-42).51 On April 19, 2007, the Senate passed S. 378, as
amended, by a vote of 97-0.52 The House received the Senate-passed bill the next
The Administration expressed support for the passage of both H.R. 660 and S.
378. In its Statement of Administration Policy on each of the bills, the
Administration stated the following:
The legislation would enhance the ability of the Federal government to prosecute
individuals who attack or threaten participants in the Nation’s judicial system,
protection details, and provided security for almost 200 judicial conferences, protected
Supreme Court Justices while on travel, and responded to bomb and hazardous materials
threats as well as improved security at numerous courthouses. Further, the director said JSD
is in the final stages of constructing a Threat Management Center to serve as the nerve
center for threats and inappropriate communications against judicial officials and others
under USMS protection. He also outlined several other initiatives to enhance judicial
security, including improvements in the protective investigations program, and the
establishment of a National Center for Judicial Security that would be operated, staffed, and
managed by members of the JSD and provide services and support to federal, state, local,
and international jurisdictions concerning advice and assistance related to judicial security.
See [http://judiciary.senate.gov/testimony.cfm?id=2526&wit_id=6072] for the text of the
U.S. Congressional Budget Office, “Cost Estimate: S. 378, Court Security Improvement
Act of 2007,” (Washington, DC: March 23, 2007). Available at [http://www.cbo.gov/
According to the committee report accompanying S. 378, the committee adopted an
amendment to eliminate the 12th judge on the D.C. Circuit Court and add a judge to the
Ninth Circuit Court (due to the increased workload of the Ninth Circuit, while the D.C. court
workload has decreased in recent years). A Senator offered another amendment to make
permanent one temporary federal judgeship. The chairman had “suggested that such
measures should be considered as part of a comprehensive bill that would address judicial
needs nationwide.” Subsequently, the Senator withdrew his amendment. U.S. Congress,
Senate Committee on the Judiciary, The Court Security Improvement Act of 2007, report to
accompany S. 378, 110th Cong., 1st sess., S.Rept. 110-42 (Washington: GPO, 2007), p. 3.
On May 8, 2007, the chairman introduced S. 1327, a bill to “create and extend” for 10 years
five expired or soon-to-expire temporary judgeships (one each in California and Nebraska,
which had expired, and another three, in Hawaii, Kansas, and Ohio, which are close to
expiration). The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Senate adopted by unanimous consent S.Amdt. 896, a manager’s amendment to make
technical and clarifying changes concerning the protection of magistrate judges and U.S.
Tax Court judges. Under this amendment, the U.S. Tax Court would reimburse USMS for
its protective services. Although a number of other amendments were filed or considered,
they were not adopted. Among them were S.Amdt. 891, an amendment to express the sense
of the Senate that Congress should offset the cost of new spending (tabled by a vote of 5938); and S.Amdt. 897, an amendment to provide for the appointment of additional federal
circuit judges and to divide the Ninth Judicial Circuit into two circuits, and for other
purposes (ruled out of order by the chair).
including judges, lawyers, witnesses, and law enforcement officers. A Nation
founded on the rule of law must protect the integrity of its judicial system, which
must apply the law without fear or favor.53
However, the Administration also expressed its view that the provision requiring
consultation between the judiciary and the Department of Justice was unnecessary
because consultation was already taking place on a regular basis. It also believes that
the statutory requirement could “erode the Justice Department’s ability to protect
judges in accordance with the Department’s own determination of threat and security
assessments.” In the statement on S. 378, it stated that “The Administration looks
forward to continuing to work with Congress to address constitutional issues raised
by certain provisions of this bill and to enhance judicial security.”54
House and Senate Passage
The Senate passed S. 378 on April 19, 2007, by a vote of 97-0. The House
passed H.R. 660 on July 10, 2007, by voice vote under suspension of the rules. As
passed in their respective chambers, the House and Senate bills in most of their key
provisions are essentially the same, but differ in a few areas. For example, the
Senate-passed bill includes a provision, not in the House-passed bill, to increase by
one the number of judgeships (28 to 29) in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and
to decrease by one the number of judgeships (12 to 11) in the District of Columbia
Circuit Court of Appeals. The House-passed bill includes provisions not in the
Senate bill, including a provision to make permanent the existing authority (ending
in 2009) of the Judicial Conference to redact certain personal information of judicial
officers, employees, and their families from financial disclosure statements (see H.R.
1130, P.L. 110-24 discussed below). Other differences that distinguish the Housepassed bill from the Senate version include House provisions that (1) instruct the
Attorney General to conduct a study on whether public access to state and local
records could pose a danger to the federal judiciary; (2) authorize the Attorney
General to award grants for each state to establish and maintain threat assessment
databases (to which the Justice Department and other states would be allowed
access); and (3) authorize appropriations of $10 million (for each of the fiscal years
2008 through 2012) for the Fugitive Apprehensive Task Forces.
U.S. Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, Statement of
Administration Policy, S. 378 — Court Security Improvement Act of 2007, Washington,
D.C., April 19, 2007 and Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and
Budget, Statement of Administration Policy, H.R. 660 — Court Security Improvement Act
of 2007, Washington, D.C., July 10, 2007.
Ibid. The Administration’s statements on S. 378 and H.R. 660 are nearly identical. The
Administration’s positions on grant programs and reimbursement of USMS for the proposed
protection of the U.S. Tax Court are also mentioned in the Statement of Administration
The statements on S. 378 and H.R. 660 are available at
After resolving differences between the House and Senate versions of H.R. 660, the
Senate passed the amended bill on December 17, 2007 by unanimous consent. Two days
later, on December 19, 2007, the House approved the amended bill by voice vote under
suspension of the rules.55 On January 7, 2008, the President signed H.R. 660 into law
Among other things, P.L. 110-177 contains provisions to
(1) require the director of USMS to consult with the Judicial Conference of the
United States on a continuing basis to ensure that the conference’s views on security
requirements for the judicial branch are taken into account when determining staffing
levels, setting priorities for security programs, and allocating judicial security
(2) extend authority of the Judicial Conference through 2011 to redact certain
personal information from financial disclosure reports filed by judicial officers,
judicial employees, and their family members;
(3) raise penalties for attacking or threatening federal judges or their family members;
(4) authorize funds for USMS to spend $20 million (for each of fiscal years 2007
through 2011) to hire deputy marshals to protect courts and investigate threats;
(5) impose fines or imprisonment (or both) for filing false liens against federal judges
or law enforcement officers;
(6) prohibit dangerous weapons in federal courthouses;
(7) instruct the Attorney General to conduct a study on whether public access to state
and local records could pose a danger to the federal judiciary, report to Congress on
the results of the study, and make any necessary recommendations;
(8) authorize the Attorney General to award grants for each state to establish and
maintain threat assessment databases (to which the Justice Department and other
states would be allowed access);
(9) increase by one the number of judgeships (28 to 29) in the Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeals and a decrease by one the number of judgeships (12 to 11) in the District of
Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals; and
On December 19, 2008, both chambers agreed to S.Con.Res. 62, a measure that removed
a provision in H.R. 660 that would have provided funds for the payment of insurance
premium increases for federal bankruptcy and territorial judges. Such an increase would
have added about $1 million in new spending without a corresponding offset, and would
have violated a House pay-as-you-go rule.
(10) authorize senior judges to participate in the appointment of magistrate judges
and court officers, rulemaking, governance, and administrative matters.56
Judicial Security Budget: FY2008 and FY2009
Funding for federal judicial security is generally appropriated annually under
two separate appropriations bills, one for the judiciary and one for USMS. The
House provides funding for the judiciary under the Financial Services and General
Government appropriations bill. Similarly, in the Senate, funding for the judiciary
is provided under the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill.
The Court Security account funds guard services, security systems, and equipment
for courthouses and other federal facilities. Under this account, the bulk of the
funding is transferred to USMS for administering the Judicial Facility Security
Program that pays for CSOs. For FY2008, Congress appropriated $410 million for
the court security and would fund 53 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions. Of the
total requested for this account, approximately $73 million is projected to pay FPS
for its security services in court-occupied space, and about $3 million for program
administration and staff costs at the AOUSC.57 For FY2009, the judiciary has
requested $439.9 million for court security. This amount would include funding for
62 FTE positions.
USMS is funded under separate appropriations bills. In the House, funding is
provided under Title I of the Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related
Agencies appropriations bill. In the Senate, funding is under Title I of the
Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
appropriations bill.58 For FY2008, Congress appropriated a total of $866.5 million
for USMS salaries and expenses account for FY2008 for 4,262 FTE positions. Of
the total amount, $357.3 million have been allocated, including 1,715 FTE positions,
for judicial and courthouse security,
The FY2009 USMS budget request is $933.1 million, including 4,523 FTE
positions. Of this total, $377.8 million and 1,804 FTE positions would be allocated
for judicial and courthouse security.
House and Senate Subcommittee Appropriations Hearings
On March 21, 2007, the House and Senate Subcommittees on Financial Services
and General Government held separate hearings on the FY2008 federal judiciary
budget request. Representative José E. Serrano, chairman of the House
For further details about provisions contained in P.L. 110-177, see CRS Report RL33884,
Court Security Improvement Act of 2007: A Legal Analysis of H.R. 660/S. 378, by Charles
Doyle, and CRS Report RL33473, Judicial Security: Comparison of Legislation in the 110th
Congress, by Nathan James.
Based on information provided to the author by AOUSC on May 25, 2007.
The differences reflect the restructuring of House and Senate subcommittees’ jurisdictions
at the beginning of the 110th Congress.
Subcommittee on Financial Services, and Senator Richard J. Durbin, chairman of
the Senate Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, each
expressed concern about judicial security. Judge Julia S. Gibbons, chair of the
Judicial Conference Committee on the Budget, and James C. Duff, director of
AOUSC, testified at both hearings. Judge Gibbons detailed her concerns about
inoperable cameras that provide surveillance of the exterior of some courthouses. In
one instance, after pellets were fired at a district courthouse at night, the court
discovered that no surveillance footage could be reviewed because the FPS cameras
were not recording any exterior views. Following several reports from district judges
that the perimeter security equipment provided by FPS had not been maintained or
repaired and that security may have been compromised, USMS assumed
responsibility for the repairing or replacing of FPS-perimeter security cameras. She
expressed her appreciation to USMS, but noted that the situation resulted in the
judiciary paying both USMS and FPS for identical services. According to Judge
Gibbons, “FPS continues to be unable to provide the Judiciary with adequate costeffective services, working equipment, detailed billing records, and timely cost
projections.” She told the subcommittees that the Judicial Conference voted a week
ago to support the efforts of USMS to assume security functions currently performed
by FPS at court facilities (where the judiciary is the primary tenant), and to be funded
for the associated costs.59
In his testimony, Director Duff stated that the judiciary and USMS were
“building a stronger working relationship.” Noting that USMS Director Clark had
attended each of the Judicial Conference’s Judicial Security Committee meetings
since its establishment in January 2006, and his efforts to encourage his senior staff
to meet regularly with AOUSC staff to consult and implement security policies,
Director Duff stated, “This improved relationship with the USMS will enhance the
security of the Judiciary.”60
In committee report language, the House Appropriations Committee expressed
concern with “the quality of service” the Federal Protective Service has provided the
judiciary, and encouraged the judiciary to “continue to explore options with other
Federal law enforcement agencies that might be able to provide these security
In report language, the Senate Appropriations Committee expressed its
expectation that USMS will fully cooperate as the judiciary conducts fiduciary and
program oversight responsibilities for the Judicial Facility Security. The Senate bill
also includes Section 307, which calls on the director of USMS to consult with the
director of AOUSC to designate certain courthouses for a pilot program under which
the USMS — rather than the Department of Homeland Security (FPS) — will
provide building-specific security services. The AOUSC would reimburse the USMS
Judge Gibbons’ March 21, 2007, Statement, pp. 9-10.
See [http://www.uscourts.gov/testimony/Duff_Senate32107.pdf] for the text of Director
U.S. Congress, House Committee on Appropriations, Financial Services and General
Government Appropriations Bill, 2008, report to accompany H.R. 2829, 110th Cong., 1st
sess., H.Rpt.110-207 (Washington: GPO, 2007), p. 45.
for these services under the pilot.62 In enacted legislation,63 a pilot project was
established authorizing USMS to assume perimeter security duties from FPS at seven
selected court facilities on a temporary basis.
In prepared testimony at the FY2009 budget hearings before the House and
Senate Subcommittees on March 12, 2008, Judge Gibbons discussed the pilot
program that will involve the USMS monitoring the exterior of the courthouses with
court security officers and assuming control of FPS monitoring equipment. The
USMS, working with the AOUSC, selected seven courthouses64 for the pilot, which
is anticipated to begin in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2008 for a duration of
approximately 18 months. An evaluation of the pilot is expected to be provided to
congressional subcommittees. The estimated annualized cost of the pilot is $5
million, which would be offset by expected reductions in FPS billings.65
Judicial Conference Actions
By statute,66 the Judicial Conference must hold annual meetings. By tradition,
however, the conference meets semiannually, in March and September of each year.
At the March 15, 2005, meeting, just four days after the Atlanta courthouse shooting,
the conference adopted a resolution that called on DOJ and USMS to review fully
and expeditiously all aspects of judicial security, particularly security at judges’
homes and other locations away from the courthouse. The conference also called
upon the legislative and executive branches to provide adequate security funding and
took the following actions:
directed AOUSC to work with commercial information providers to
block certain information about judges and their families;
U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Financial Services and General
Government Appropriations Bill, 2008, report to accompany H.R. 2829, 110th Cong., 1st
sess., S.Rept. 110-129 (Washington: GPO, 2007), pp. 54 and 56.
H.R. 2764, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-161) .
The seven are the Everett McKinley Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, Chicago, IL; the
Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse, Detroit, MI; the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S.
Courthouse, Phoenix, AZ; the Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse, Tucson, AZ; the
Russell B. Long Federal Building/U.S. Courthouse, Baton Rouge, LA; the Old
Federal Building and Courthouse, Baton Rouge, LA; and the Daniel Patrick
Moynihan U.S. Courthouse, New York, NY.
Statement of Honorable Julia S. Gibbons, Chair, Committee on the Budget of the Judicial
Conference of the United States Before the Subcommittee on Financial Services and
General Government of the Committee of Appropriations of the United States Senate,
M a r c h
1 2 ,
2 0 0 8 ,
p p .
2 - 3 ,
28 U.S.C. Sec. 331. After each of the conference meetings, separate meetings of circuit
chief judges and district judge representatives typically are held, and are chaired by judges
selected from the conference membership.
tasked conference committees to review whether further action
would be needed to improve off-site security for judges; and
asked the Security and Facilities Committee to continue to work
with USMS on off-site security for judges.
At the September 20, 2005, meeting, the Judicial Conference Committee on
Security and Facilities decided to develop an agreement between AOUSC and DOJ
to provide up to $4,000 per judge for the purchase of home intrusion detection
systems (from the $11.9 million appropriated to USMS for this purpose by P.L. 10913).67 The conference also adopted a recommendation, proposed by the Executive
Committee, to divide the Committee on Security and Facilities into two committees:
the Committee on Judicial Security,68 and the Committee on Space and Facilities.
The jurisdictional change, enabling a separate committee to devote its full attention
on judicial security, became effective October 1, 2005.
At the March 14, 2006, meeting, the Judicial Conference voted to:
authorize the placement of security screening equipment and
contract security guards at leased facilities housing federal probation
and pretrial services offices (about 50 offices nationwide are in
leased space, not federal courthouses);
urge USMS to provide more frequent training for deputy marshals
and judicial security inspectors responsible for security surveys of
judges’ homes, and more training on how to provide an effective
encourage newly appointed federal judges to provide personal
information to USMS, as requested, and for USMS to ensure the
security of such information; and
urge the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to adopt a policy of screening (but
not reading) all outgoing mail to judges and courts from inmates in
At the September 19, 2006, meeting, the Judicial Conference had voted to ask
Congress to appropriate funds directly to the Federal Protective Service (FPS), and
According to the U.S. Marshals Service, installation of intrusion detection alarm systems
has been completed in 100% of federal judges’ homes. The information was provided to
the author on February 19, 2008.
The committee is charged to review, monitor, and recommend to the conference policies
regarding the security of the federal judiciary, e.g., protection of court facilities and
proceedings, for judicial officers, other officers and employees of the judiciary, and their
U.S. Courts, “Conference Supports Shift in Responsibility for Courthouses,” news release
(Washington, DC: March 14, 2006).
Available at [http://www.uscourts.gov/
to request that the President incorporate direct funding for FPS charges in the
President’s FY2008 budget request.70
As Judge Gibbons noted at the March 21, 2007, House and Senate budget
hearings, the Judicial Conference recently voted to endorse a recommendation to
support the efforts of USMS, possibly by legislative means, to assume security
functions at court facilities (where the judiciary is the primary tenant) currently
performed by FPS, and to receive funding for these functions.71
Actions by the National Center for the State Courts
In addition the federal response to the killings in Chicago and Atlanta, state and
local officials also suggested or adopted measures for enhanced security of judges,
court personnel, and courthouses. In addition to their value in improving state court
security, those actions may provide lessons for federal judicial security efforts. Also,
congressional interest in the security of the state courts is evidenced by the inclusion
of provisions contained in legislation that provide federal grants to states.
In introducing S. 1968 in the 109th Congress, Senator Specter said that the
“rampage in Atlanta reminds us that the issue of judicial security is no less of a
compelling problem for State and local courts, where approximately 32,000 State and
local court judges sit compared to approximately 2,400 Federal judges.”72 Some have
observed that there are occasions when threats made against state judges follow them
when they move to the federal bench.73 There has been some consultation and
sharing of information between the federal and state entities to enhance the security
of the courts. For example, Judge Jane Roth (then-chair of the Judicial Conference’s
Security and Facilities Committee and a judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals)
spoke at a summit on state court security (discussed below).
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC)74 has developed proposals on the
security issue. In March 2005, NCSC issued the Essential Ten Elements for Effective
Courtroom Safety and Security Planning, a document intended to serve as a
FPS charges federal agencies for its services on a pro-rata basis. The judiciary could save
administrative costs were the Department of Homeland Security to provide funding directly
to FPS. U.S. Courts, “Report of the Proceedings of the Judicial Conference of the United
States,” September 19, 2006, p. 10. Available at [http://www.uscourts.gov/judconf/
Judge Gibbons’s March 21, 2007, Statement, p. 9.
Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 151, November 7, 2005, p. S12449.
Based on information provided by a court security expert to the author on May 31, 2006.
NCSC is an independent, nonprofit organization, whose mission is “to improve the
administration of justice through leadership and service to state courts, and courts around
the world.” For more information about NCSC, see [http://www.ncsconline.org/
framework for state judicial security.75 The 10 elements dealt with such matters as
funding, threat assessments, standard operating procedures, and court design. The
Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators’ Joint
Committee on Security and Emergency Preparedness have been working on a manual
that is based on the 10 elements. NCSC followed the recommendations by
sponsoring a National Summit on Court Safety and Security76 on April 21, 2005,
which was partially funded by DOJ. The summit convened 100 state chief justices;
sheriffs; court administrators; and federal, state, and local policymakers. Preliminary
recommendations proposed by the summit were to (1) create a national threat
assessment and incident reporting database to provide critical information to all
stakeholder groups; (2) create a national clearinghouse on court security to facilitate
information sharing and cross-cutting research; (3) create strategies for leveraging
resources across stakeholder groups at the national, state, and local levels; and (4)
integrate court safety and security issues in homeland security planning and funding.
A follow-up summit was held on November 17, 2005, to continue the
discussions. NCSC credited Judge Roth, a speaker at both summits, for being
instrumental in identifying federal security issues and resources. As a result of the
summits, a report, A National Strategic Plan For Judicial Branch Security, was
issued on February 7, 2006. It recommended several strategies, including the
following: (1) promote leadership, (2) establish a national coalition on court security,
(3) develop a national incident-reporting database, (4) address education and training
needs, and (5) pursue funding for these activities.77
In March 2006, NCSC, USMS, and the National Sheriffs Association met to
discuss areas in which they can collaborate and build on one another’s resources.
They identified three initial activities that were needed: (1) a court security workshop
to be offered at the National Association for Court Management’s annual meeting
that summer; (2) educational programs to train judges and court staff to identify
possible threats and suspicious behavior, and to enhance their personal safety; and
The document was created by the NCSC Joint Committee of Conference of Chief Justices
and the Conference of State Court Administrators Security and Emergency Preparedness
Committee. The 10 elements were: (1) Operation Security: Standard Operating Procedures;
(2) Facility Security Planning: Self Audit Survey of Court Facilities; (3) Emergency
Preparedness and Response: Continuity of Operations; (4) Disaster Recovery: Essential
Elements of a Plan; (5) Threat Assessment; (6) Incident Reporting; (7) Funding; (8) Security
Equipment and Costs; (9) Resources and Partnerships; and (10) New Courthouse Design.
See the NCSC press release at [http://www.ncsconline.org/What’sNew/TenPointPlan.pdf].
For more information about the summit and its preliminary findings, see
Dr. Pamela Casey, A National Strategic Plan for Judicial Branch Security, prepared for
the National Center for State Courts and the National Sheriff’s Association, February 7,
2 0 0 6 .
T h e
r e p o r t
a v a i l a b l e
(3) a USMS National Institute on Judicial Security to provide court professionals
with education and technical assistance.78
In the two years following the Chicago and Atlanta murders, federal and state
officials raised concerns about judicial security, and several proposals for
improvement were considered or adopted. The Judicial Conference made
recommendations and took actions to enhance security for court facilities and provide
off-site protection for judges. Legislation was enacted providing funds to USMS for
the installation of intrusion detection systems in the homes of federal judges who
requested them. In November 2007, installation of all these systems was
The House and Senate Judiciary Committees have conducted hearings, both
Houses introduced and passed legislation to improve overall federal judicial security.
The President signed the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007 bill into law
(P.L.110-177). As Congress continues to consider efforts to enhance judicial security
by authorizing programs, appropriating funds, and conducting oversight, the
following are some of the issues Congress might choose to address.
Resources and Staffing. Budget requests for the federal judiciary and
USMS would provide funding, staff, and resources to maintain and enhance the
security of the judiciary. Even if the budget requests are fully funded, subsequent
events (e.g., possible gaps in security revealed later in the event of further tragedies,
or across-the-board reductions in spending) may lead some to suggest the need for
additional funds or staff. Congress may consider whether continuing resolutions
could lead to funding delays and affect implementation of needed security
enhancements. Any potential changes in FPS funding and jurisdiction for the
security functions it provides to the judiciary may have short- and long-term
administrative, staffing, and other implications for the judiciary, USMS, and FPS.
Consultation and Coordination. As evidenced by testimony presented at
congressional hearings, there have been long-standing questions raised about the
degree and quality of communications between the principal entities charged with
protecting the judiciary. Provisions in both House and Senate bills, now enacted,
discussed in this report call for USMS to consult on a continuing basis with the
Judicial Conference of the United States. There is, however, no requirement in the
law that a formal report be submitted to Congress on actions taken on such
consultation. Both directors of AOUSC and USMS have been in their positions for
over a year, and the new leadership appears to have created potential opportunities
for enhancing judiciary-USMS consultation and coordination. Issues concerning
adequate FPS protective services for the perimeter of judicial facilities are also a
Information was provided to the author by the NCSC on April 7, 2006.
Based on information USMS provided to the author on February 19, 2008 via electronic
concern that may require continued coordination and communication, or other
remedies. The 18-month pilot program for USMS to assume security functions from
FPS at selected courthouses will begin later in the year. Following the pilot, an
evaluation of the program will be submitted to Congress. Consideration may be
given to an informal or formal evaluation of the pilot at mid-point to determine
whether adjustments, if any, are needed.
Federal and State Collaboration. As noted in this report, there have been
several instances of federal and state courts collaborating and communicating to
address judicial security issues. Building on those relationships, perhaps through
partnerships to establish a national clearing house on judicial security information,
might help to enhance security at the both the national and state levels. The sharing
of information and resources (e.g., either through technological means or at regularly
scheduled seminars involving federal and state officials, and others) might also prove
more cost-effective than a less collaborative relationship. The establishment of the
National Center on Judicial Security may provide more opportunities for
collaboration on various levels to enhance judicial security.
Continued Focus and Oversight. The challenge to federal and state
officials is continuing to make judicial security issues a priority. Generally, after
tragic events — such as the murders in Chicago and Atlanta, and the shooting in
Reno — immediate efforts are taken to address the issue. As time elapses, however,
the momentum generated in the aftermath of those tragedies is often difficult to
sustain. Therefore, continued congressional oversight and legislative action may be
a critical factor to enhance the security of the judiciary and to build on the progress
that has been made.
Appendix. Legislation in the 109th Congress
During the 109th Congress, legislation was introduced and hearings were held
in both the House of Representatives and the Senate related to the issue of judicial
security. The subjects of that legislation and those hearings included ways to
improve security for judicial officers in the courtrooms, to safeguard judges and their
families at home, to restrict personal information postings about judicial officers on
the Internet, and to increase penalties for acts against judicial officers and other law
enforcement personnel. Of the 11 bills discussed below, one bill, H.R. 1268, was
enacted into law (P.L. 109-13), to provide funds to USMS for intrusion detection
systems in judges’ homes. Another bill (H.R. 4311) passed both houses, but was not
enacted. The House passed two other bills (H.R. 1751 and H.R. 447280), and the
Senate passed one other bill (S. 1558). In addition, although the Senate adopted S.
2766 with a court security amendment, the bill was later incorporated into another
bill, H.R. 5122 — without the court security provisions.
On May 11, 2005, the President signed into law H.R. 1268, Emergency
Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and
Tsunami Relief, 2005 (P.L. 109-13). The law included an appropriation of $11.9
million to USMS, as the Judicial Conference requested, to provide intrusion
detection systems in judges’ homes. According to the 2005 Annual Report of the
Director, AOUSC staff and the Judicial Conference’s Judicial Security Committee
worked with USMS to implement the home intrusion detection system program.
USMS agreed to pay the charges for their monitoring and maintenance. According
to USMS, of the 1,616 requests judges and magistrates made to install security
systems in their homes, 1,413 systems have been installed. Pre-installation surveys
of all homes have been completed.81
House Legislation and Hearing
H.R. 1751. Among the House bills related to judicial security introduced
during the 109th Congress, H.R. 1751, the Secure Access to Justice and Courtroom
Protection Act of 2005, was the subject of a hearing. Representative Louie Gohmert
introduced H.R. 1751, for himself and Representative Anthony D. Weiner, on April
21, 2005. Among other provisions, the bill would (1) prohibit the possession of a
dangerous weapon in a federal court facility; (2) increase penalties for assaulting,
kidnaping, or murdering judges or their families; (3) restrict the posting of certain
personal information about judges, jurors, or witnesses on the Internet; (4) require
USMS to coordinate with AOUSC on security issues; and (5) provide states with
However, H.R. 4472, the Children’s Safety and Violent Crime Reduction Act, was
ultimately passed and signed into law without the court security provisions of H.R. 1751,
the Secure Access to Justice and Courtroom Protection Act of 2005. Both bills are
Based on information provided by USMS to the author on February 8, 2007.
grants for witness and victim protection programs, grants for threat assessment
databases, and funding for states to enhance court security.
On April 26, 2005, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime,
Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing on H.R. 1751. Representative
Howard Coble, then-chairman of the subcommittee, stated at the beginning of the
We must work together in a bipartisan effort to ensure that our judicial system
operates in a safe environment. Judges, witnesses, courthouse personnel, and
law enforcement must not have to face threats of violence when carrying out
their duties. Our mission here is to provide the resources and the tools necessary
to ensure that our judicial system works. Our words must translate into deeds
and meaningful reforms and resources.82
Highlights of the hearing included the testimony of Judge Cynthia Stevens Kent,
of the 114th Judicial District Court in Tyler, Texas, who has received numerous death
threats over the years. Judge Kent expressed her support for H.R. 1751 and called
the bill a “thoughtful and wonderful start to addressing the need to protect judges,
prosecutors, jurors, witnesses, and those who are in our judicial system.” She asked
the committee to consider a number of recommendations, including (1) creating a
national clearing house to collect and correlate federal and state breaches of security;
(2) developing protocols to respond to the threats; (3) enacting tougher penalties for
threats, assaults, and murders of judges and their families; (4) establishing grant
programs to distribute funds to state courts to enhance security; and (5) providing
federal judges with emergency communication devices, including global positioning
In her testimony, Judge Jane R. Roth, then-chair of the Judicial Conference’s
Security and Facilities Committee and a judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals,
stressed concerns about USMS staffing shortages, and its ability to provide judicial
security as well as manage its other law enforcement duties (e.g., to apprehend
fugitives, asset forfeiture, and witness protection). Judge Roth also expressed
concerns about what she viewed as USMS threat assessment capabilities, and DOJ’s
willingness to share information about staffing levels and to consider changes with
the Judicial Conference. She supported a number of security actions, some of which
were already part of H.R. 1751: consultation and coordination between the director
of AOUSC and the director of USMS regarding judicial security requirements;
installation of home intrusion detection systems; permanent authority to redact
certain information from judges’ financial disclosure; firearms training for judges;
and penalties for those who file false liens against judges.84
U.S. Congress, House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism,
and Homeland Security, Secure Access to Justice and Court Protection Act of 2005, hearing
on H.R. 1751, 109th Cong., 1st sess., April 26, 2005 (Washington: GPO), p. 1.
Ibid., pp. 19-20.
Ibid., pp. 8-10.
John F. Clarke, then-U. S. marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia (who was
confirmed to be director of USMS on March 16, 2006), also testified at the hearing.
Mr. Clarke stated that USMS was on target to implement all of DOJ’s inspector
general’s March 2004 report, Review of the United States Marshals Service Judicial
Security Process. He also said that the chairman of the Judicial Security Review
Working Group that Attorney General Gonzales established soon after the Chicago
and Atlanta murders had met with the Judicial Conference and AOUSC. He also
noted that DOJ had provided $100,000 to the National Center for State Courts
(NCSC) for its study of state and local court security. (NCSC initiatives are discussed
later in the report.)
On November 9, 2005, the House passed H.R. 1751 by a vote of 375 to 45. The
bill included an amendment that would authorize any federal judge, magistrate, U.S.
attorney, or any other DOJ officer who represents the U. S. in a court of law, to carry
firearms (subject to training and regulation that the U. S. Attorney General
prescribes). It also included a provision that would make permanent the authority for
the judiciary to redact information on judges in their financial disclosure forms to
protect them from possible threats.85
On November 10, 2006, the Senate received the bill and referred it to the Senate
Judiciary Committee. The bill was discharged from the committee by unanimous
consent on December 6, 2006. On that same day, the Senate passed H.R. 1751, as
amended, by unanimous consent, but no final action on the bill was taken prior to the
109th Congress’s adjournment.
H.R. 1710. On April 19, 2005, Representative Weiner introduced H.R. 1710,
the “Internet Police Protection Act of 2005,” which would prohibit knowingly
making restricted personal information about a covered official publicly available
through the Internet. The bill defined “covered official” to include a U.S. court
officer, juror, or magistrate judge, or a grand or petit juror. The bill was referred to
the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security of the House
Judiciary Committee on May 10, 2005. The main thrust of the bill, to help protect
covered officials from harmful information being posted on the Internet, was
incorporated in H.R. 1751 (introduced two days after H.R. 1710, with Representative
Weiner as an original cosponsor) and H.R. 4472 (discussed below).
H.R. 4311. On November 14, 2005, Representative James F. Sensenbrenner,
Jr., then-chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced H.R. 4311, a bill
to amend the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. The legislation would make
permanent provisions to allow redaction of judges’ required financial disclosure
forms if the Judicial Conference found that the release of the information could
endanger a judge or the judge’s family. The House passed the bill on December 7,
Reportedly, there were discussions at the end of September 2006 to include the court
security provisions of H.R. 1751 in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2007,
H.R. 5122, and subsequent discussions to possibly add them to the port security bill, H.R.
4954. However, both bills were passed without the court security measures. See John. M.
Donnelly, “2006 Legislative Summary: Defense Authorization,” CQ Weekly, December 18,
2006, p. 3341, and Kathryn A. Wolfe, “Port Security Legislation Clears,” CQ Today,
October 9, 2006, p. 2708.
2005, by voice vote, under suspension of the rules, and sent it to the Senate on
December 12, 2005. On January 27, 2006, it was referred to the Senate Committee
on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. On June 7, 2006, the Senate
discharged H.R. 4311 from committee, amended the bill to include family members
and to extend the public filing requirement, and passed the bill by unanimous
consent. The Senate sent a message on its action to the House on the same day. No
further action was taken prior to the adjournment of the 109th Congress.
H.R. 4472. On December 8, 2005, Representative Sensenbrenner introduced
H.R. 4472, the “Children’s Safety and Violent Crime Reduction Act.” H.R. 4472
was a package of the core provisions of three previously passed anti-crime bills:
H.R. 3132 (the Children’s Safety Act of 2005), H.R. 1279 (Gang Prevention and
Deterrence Act), and the previously discussed H.R. 1751 (the Secure Access to
Justice and Courthouse Protection Act).86 Title VII of the bill contained several
provisions relating to court security that were contained in H.R. 1751. Among other
things, it would have (1) required USMS to consult regularly with AOUSC on
judicial security; (2) authorized the appropriation of an additional $20 million for
USMS for each of fiscal years 2006 through 2010 to hire additional staff for court
security; (3) required a report by the Attorney General on the security of federal
prosecutors; (4) established special penalties for murder, kidnaping, and related
crimes against federal judges and federal law enforcement officers; (5) authorized
federal judges and prosecutors to carry firearms; and (6) prohibited the possession of
a dangerous weapon in a court facility. H.R. 4472 had also incorporated the main
thrust of H.R. 1710 to help protect covered officials from harmful information being
made public so that it could be used to intimidate or facilitate the commission of a
crime of violence against that official or an immediate family member. The House
passed the bill by voice vote, on March 8, 2006, under suspension of the rules. H.R.
4472 was referred to the Senate on March 9, 2006. However, as passed by the Senate
on July 20, 2006, and signed into law (P.L. 109-248) on July 27, 2006, the legislation
did not include the court security provisions.
H.R. 4732. On February 8, 2006, Representative Jon C. Porter introduced H.R.
4732, a bill to provide federal penalties for killing federally funded public safety
officers, including judicial officers (e.g., judges, prosecutors, and court security
officers). H.R. 4732 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee on February 8,
2006, but no further action was taken prior to the adjournment of the 109th Congress.
Senate Legislation and Hearing
On May 18, 2005, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing entitled
“Protecting the Judiciary at Home and in the Courthouse.” The committee heard
testimony that highlighted the nature and scope of threats against judges, other law
enforcement officials, and their families, and the need for better consultation between
the Judiciary and USMS to improve security. Senator Arlen Specter, then-chairman
of the committee, stated the following at the beginning of the hearing:
H.R. 4472 did not include the photographing, broadcasting, or televising the courts that
had been part of H.R. 1751.
There’s no doubt that the rule of law is the backbone of our civilized society.
The capability of the judiciary to determine the rule of law without fear or favor
is an indispensable prerequisite in our democratic society. Personal security,
along with judicial independence, must be safeguarded at all costs.87
Highlights of the hearing included testimony from Judge Joan H. Lefkow,
whose husband and mother were murdered at her home on February 28, 2005. Judge
Lefkow appealed to the committee to make judicial security a priority, and to
“support the vital role of judges in sustaining a society based on the rule of law
instead of right being defined by might.”88 She advocated the rapid distribution of
funds for judges’ home intrusion detection systems (discussed later in this report),
and urged support for legislation to prohibit the posting of personal information about
judges and other public officials on the Internet without their written consent. Judge
Lefkow also requested adequate funding and staffing for USMS. Finally, because of
what she termed “gratuitous attacks on the judiciary” that she viewed as encouraging
attacks on judges, she appealed for the committee’s “help in tempering the tone of
the debates that concern the independence of the judiciary.”
Judge Roth, who had testified in April before the House subcommittee on H.R.
1751, reiterated her concerns about judicial security. She expressed her view that
there was “an ongoing crisis in the relationship that exists between the judiciary, the
United States Marshal Service and the Department of Justice,” and that the judiciary
had been excluded from the key areas of policy, planning, and budget when resource
needs are determined. She proposed that USMS and the judiciary be required “to
jointly submit to Congress 180 days after the date of enactment a report that states
what the security needs of the judiciary are and how they are to be addressed” as a
way to assist committee oversight, and to bring about a more productive relationship
between judiciary and DOJ.89
Senator Specter also referred to the DOJ IG’s March 2004 report on USMS
threat assessment capability to collect and to share intelligence. IG Glenn A. Fine
submitted written testimony to the committee that discussed the report’s
recommendations, indicated that USMS had agreed with all the recommendations,
and stated that USMS had since provided the information on the status of corrective
action. With the killings in Chicago and Atlanta, the IG expressed his belief that
USMS Office of Protective Intelligence must be staffed appropriately in order to
effectively collect, analyze, and disseminate intelligence to provide the necessary
security for the federal Judiciary. The IG concluded that, although USMS had begun
to take steps to address the deficiencies, USMS and DOJ should address the issues
on an expedited basis.90
U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Protecting the Judiciary at Home and
in the Courthouse, hearing, 109th Cong., 1st sess., May 18, 2005, S.Hrg. 109-57
(Washington: GPO, 2005), p. 1.
Ibid., p. 7.
Ibid., p. 14.
Ibid., p. 78.
Then-director of USMS, Benigno Reyna, also testified at the hearing and
described USMS’s mission, scope of responsibilities, and the challenges as it works
to provide protection for the Judiciary.91
S. 1605. On July 29, 2005, Senator Jon Kyl introduced S. 1605, the “Law
Enforcement Officers’ Protection Act of 2005,” which would amend the federal
criminal code to prohibit killing or attempting to kill a federally funded public safety
officer (including a judicial officer). The bill would establish or increase penalties
for: (1) assaulting federally funded public safety officers (including a federal judge
and other federal officials; (2) retaliating against such an officer, judge, or official by
murdering or assaulting a family member; and (3) committing murder, manslaughter,
and related crimes under federal jurisdiction. S. 1605 was referred to the Senate
Judiciary Committee, but no further action was taken before the 109th Congress
S. 1558. On July 29, 2005, Senator Susan M. Collins introduced, for herself
and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, S. 1558, a bill that would amend the Ethics in
Government Act of 1978.92 Similar to H.R. 4311, this bill would exempt family
members of judicial officers and employees (under current law, only officers and
employees are exempt) from publicly filing reports disclosing certain personal and
sensitive information, if there is a finding that publication of such information could
endanger judicial officers, employees, or their families. The bill would allow a report
to be redacted to the extent necessary to protect these individuals, and extend the
authority to redact for four years to December 31, 2009. S. 1558 had been referred
to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on the day
it was introduced. On November 10, 2005, the bill was discharged from the
committee by unanimous consent, and passed by unanimous consent on the same day
with two amendments93 sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy. S. 1558 was received
by the House on November 14, 2005, and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
The bill was subsequently referred to the House Subcommittee on Courts, the
Internet, and Intellectual Property on February 6, 2006. No further action was taken
on the bill prior to the end of the 109th Congress. (As noted earlier, the Senate passed
H.R. 4311 on June 7, 2006.)
S. 1968. On November 7, 2005, Senator Specter introduced S. 1968, the
“Court Security Improvement Act of 2005,” for himself and Senators John Cornyn
and Patrick Leahy. Several of the bill’s core provisions are similar to H.R. 1751.
Among other things, S. 1968 would (1) require the director of USMS to consult and
coordinate with the Judicial Conference on security requirements for the judicial
branch on a continuing basis; (2) impose penalties against those who file false liens
against federal judges and federal law enforcement officers, who may be the targets
Ibid., pp. 16-18.
The bill would amend 5 U.S.C. App., Sec. 105(b)(3) and Sec. 105(b)(3)E.
One amendment changed the title of the bill to read: “To amend the Ethics in Government
Act of 1978 to protect family members of filers from disclosing sensitive information in a
public filing and to extend for 4 years the authority to redact financial disclosure statements
of judicial employees and judicial officers.” The other amendment inserted language in the
bill to include family members of judicial officers and employees.
of retaliation; (3) prohibit possession of dangerous weapons in federal court facilities;
(4) provide grants to states to improve security for state and local court systems; and
(5) authorize the Attorney General to make grants to states, local governments, and
Indian tribes to create and expand programs to protect witnesses and victims of
crime. Like S. 1558 and H.R. 4311, the bill would also extend authority to redact
personal or sensitive information from financial disclosure forms that may harm
family members of judicial officers, and extend the provision for five years. S. 1968
was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 7, 2005. (See below
for efforts to include the bill’s court security provisions in the National Defense
Authorization Act for FY2007.) No further action on the bill was taken prior to the
adjournment of the 109th Congress.
Amendment 4252 to S. 2766. On June 14, 2006, Senator Harry Reid
submitted (for himself and Senators Patrick Leahy, Arlen Specter, Richard Durbin,
with Senator Barack Obama added as a cosponsor on the following day) a court
security amendment (essentially the text of S. 1968, see above) to S. 2766, the
National Defense Authorization Act for FY2007 (introduced on May 9, 2006). The
next day, on June 15, 2006, Senator Carl Levin proposed the amendment, as
modified, on Senator Reid’s behalf. The Senate adopted the amendment, en bloc
with other amendments, by unanimous consent, and the Senate subsequently passed
S. 2766 on June 22, 2006. However, the House version of the National Defense
Authorization Act for FY2007, H.R. 5122, did not include court security provisions.
Although there were discussions about including such measures in H.R. 5122,
ultimately, the court security provisions (Sec. 1086) as proposed by the Senate were
not included in the conference report (H.Rept. 109-702) to H.R. 5122, which the
House passed (398-23) on September 29, 2006, and that the Senate subsequently
passed by unanimous consent the next day. Thus, the bill that the President signed
into law (P.L. 109-364) on October 17, 2006, did not contain court security
S. 3835. On August 3, 2006, Senator John Cornyn introduced S. 3835, the
Court and Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 2006. The bill would (1)
impose mandatory minimum prison terms for homicide, manslaughter, and kidnaping
crimes against federal judges and law enforcement officers; (2) allow federal judges,
U.S. attorneys, and Justice Department employees to carry firearms; (3) increase
penalties for assaults against U.S. employees and officers and impose mandatory
minimum prison terms for assaults against federal judges or law enforcement
officers; and (4) impose mandatory minimum penalties for retaliating against a
federal judge or law enforcement officer by murdering, kidnaping, assaulting, or
threatening a family member. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary
Committee, but no further action was taken before the 109th Congress adjourned.