Judiciary seeks funding and laws to protect federal judges

U.S. Judicial Conference approves five security-related moves in response to gunman’s fatal attack at federal judge’s home

A view of the home of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas on July 20, 2020 in North Brunswick, New Jersey. Salas' son was shot dead and her husband was injured when a man dressed as a delivery person came to their front door and opened fire. Salas was in another part of the home and was not shot. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images file photo)
A view of the home of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas on July 20, 2020 in North Brunswick, New Jersey. Salas' son was shot dead and her husband was injured when a man dressed as a delivery person came to their front door and opened fire. Salas was in another part of the home and was not shot. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images file photo)
Posted August 14, 2020 at 3:04pm

The federal courts will press Congress for legislation and funding for additional safety measures after a gunman attacked the family of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas last month in New Jersey, killing her son and wounding her husband.

The U.S. Judicial Conference, the policymaking body for the federal court system, approved five security-related moves, and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said in a news release that the judicial branch will aggressively advocate for the changes.

The conference wants legislation to protect judges' personally identifiable information, particularly on the internet, and develop a U.S. Marshals Service program to monitor whether that information is available and react.

The additional funding requests will be to bolster a home intrusion detection system, add deputy marshals to protect judges, and upgrade and maintain Federal Protective Service security camera systems at federal courthouses.

[Federal courts seek more money and judges in next COVID-19 bill]

"Each of these provisions are long-standing issues of concern to the Judicial Security Committee," senior U.S. Circuit Judge David W. McKeague, who heads the Judicial Conference's security committee, said in the news release. "We believe a comprehensive approach must be taken to address the security vulnerabilities that exist today."

Federal investigators said the gunman who rang the doorbell and opened fire at Salas' home was an attorney who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Salas, in a video statement posted about two weeks after the attack at her home, urged improvements for the privacy of federal judges.

"My son's death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench," Salas said.