1,000 federal judges seek to remove personal information from the internet as threats skyrocket

Television news microphones outside Thurgood Marshall Federal Court in New York, U.S. on Tuesday, December 28, 2021.

Angus Mordant | Bloomberg | Getty Images

More than 1,000 federal judges have asked that US courts System to help remove personally identifiable information from the Internet as part of a program instituted after the son of a New Jersey judge was murdered in her home.

That’s nearly a third of serving and retired federal judges eligible for the program, a US court system spokesman told CNBC on Friday. The response to the online scrubbing program was detailed in the agency’s annual report, released on Thursday.

The report also describes what it described as a “dramatic increase in threats and inappropriate communications against federal judges and other court officials” in recent years.

According to the report, these incidents totaled 4,511 in 2021, a more than four-fold increase from 926 in 2015. It cited the US Marshals Service, the agency responsible for protecting federal judges and courthouses.

“Some cases involved litigants who were upset with the judges’ decisions in cases,” the report said. “And the home addresses of judges handling controversial cases have been circulated on social media.”

The Justice Department’s internal watchdog found in a 2021 report that the Marshals Service lacked enough resources to adequately protect federal judges and prosecutors.

Last June, a California man armed with a pistol, knife and pepper spray was arrested outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Federal authorities said the man, Nicholas John Roske, planned to kill Kavanaugh in part because he expected the Supreme Court to overturn federal abortion law. The court did so less than two weeks later.

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Three months before Kavanaugh was targeted, the U.S. Judiciary System’s Threat Management Division began helping judges remove or redact their personal information from websites.

More than 600 judges took part in the program through November, and nearly 400 others have since done so, a spokesman said.

The information to be removed includes home addresses, social security numbers, bank account numbers, and the addresses of children’s schools and daycares, the spokesman said.

The National Legal Journal first reported that 1,000 judges have so far opted into the program, which began with Congressional approval in anticipation of a recently enacted law redacting judges’ personal information.

Approximately 3,330 jurors are admitted to the program, of which approximately 2,300 are actively involved.

The Supreme Court is running its own program to remove personally identifiable information for the court’s nine justices.

In December, President Joe Biden signed the Daniel Anderl Legal Certainty and Privacy Act, which limits how much personally identifiable information about federal judges can be viewed in federal databases. It also restricts the resale of such information by data aggregators.

The law is named after the late son of US District Judge Esther Salas.

In July 2020, a lawyer who described himself as an “anti-feminist” posed as a delivery man when he went to Salas’ New Jersey home and killed Daniel, who was celebrating his 20th birthday.

Gunman Roy Den Hollander shot Salas’ husband several times, seriously injuring him. The judge, who was in the basement of the house at the time, was unharmed.

Hollander, who had compiled personal information about Salas from the internet after appearing before her on a case, died by suicide later that day.

Source : www.cnbc.com

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