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Judicial security update

The Issue

Judicial officers throughout the nation are subjected to threats of violence daily. In 2021, individuals protected by the U.S. Marshals Service — including federal judges, prosecutors, and court officials — faced over 4,500 threats, a 400% increase since 2015. Numerous threats have also been made toward state and local judiciary members, including the October 2023 murder of Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew F. Wilkinson outside his Maryland home and the 2022 murder of Former Juneau County Circuit Court Judge John Roemer in his Wisconsin home.

Criminals have attacked or threatened state judges and court personnel in Nevada, Colorado, Texas, Ohio, Mississippi, Rhode Island, New York, California, Kentucky, Michigan, Wyoming, Idaho, and Indiana. Recently, nationwide bomb threats were issued about state court facilities. Court clerks are threatened and harassed daily, and state supreme court justices handling controversial cases are seeing increased incidents of threats and intimidation. While the U.S. Marshals Service monitors, addresses, and develops best practices around threats to the federal judiciary, no such resource center exists for the estimated 30,000 judicial officers who serve in state and local courts. Due to the interstate nature of these threats, it is important to pool together state resources to ensure the safety of our state and local judges.


Congress is considering federal legislation (S. 3984/H.R. 8093) to improve the security of judges, their staff, and their families. The Countering Threats and Attacks on our Judges Act would create a State Judicial Threat and Intelligence Resource Center that will provide technical assistance to judges and court personnel around the country; provide physical security assessments; and coordinate research and collect data. The bill passed the United States Senate by unanimous consent on June 12, and is now under consideration in the House of Representatives.

Legislative Sponsors

The lead sponsors of the bipartisan bill include U.S. Senator Chris Coons (DE), Senator John Cornyn (TX), Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), and Representative Michael McCaul (TX).

Supporting Organizations

The following organizations have committed their support to the legislation:

  • Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ)
  • Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA)
  • Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal (CCJSCA)
  • All Rise
  • National Association for Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers (NAPCO)
  • National Association for Court Management (NACM)
  • American Judges Association (AJA)
  • National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ)
  • National Center for State Courts (NCSC)
  • National District Attorneys Association (NDAA)

A one-page legislative summary is available here. If your organization would like to sign on in support of this bill, please contact Chris Wu at 202-684-2629.

May 22, 2024 Capitol Hill Briefing

Three state court leaders—Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby (DC), Chief Justice Michael Boggs (GA) and Chief Justice Matthew Fader (MD)— joined Judge Julie Kocurek of Travis County, Texas, for a briefing organized by NCSC and co-hosted by Senator Coons (DE), U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), and U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (TX).

Judge Kocurek testified that a disgruntled litigant shot her multiple times in her vehicle outside of her home on November 6, 2015. She spent 40 days in hospital and had over 30 surgeries on her road to recovery.

The event provided critical background as Congress considers legislation to improve the safety and security of the tens of thousands of state and local court judges many of whom lack the resources or the training to provide for the security of themselves, their staffs, and their families.

U.S. Senators Chris Coons (DE) and Chris Van Hollen (MD), and Jonathan Mattiello of the State Justice Institute, offered additional remarks. Mike Buenger, NCSC’s Executive Vice President and COO, served as the moderator.

Chief Justice Boggs of Georgia:

“Threats and attacks on judges can also lead to continued and increased judicial threats and attacks. When people attempt to harm or kill a judge or their family member because of their position and the work they do, this emboldens others to do so as well.”

Chief Justice Fader of Maryland:

“While judges have always lived with a certain level of risk, we have never experienced risk on the scale that we currently see today. We are facing an entirely new threat environment that drives to the very heart of the rule of law and the fair administration of justice under law.”

Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby of DC:

“A safe and secure judiciary is vital to upholding the rule of law and ensuring that all judges are well-positioned to make fair and impartial rulings, and that their decisions cannot be influenced or changed by any threats, intimidation, or retaliation.”

Watch the May 22 briefing in its entirety.


Personal Safety Tips for Judges and Court Staff (PDF)