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1,000+ federal judges seek removal of personal info from the internet due to threats

A gavel. (TNS/Released)
March 21, 2023

Over 1,000 federal judges have requested help to remove their personal information from the internet after a new program to do so was launched after a New Jersey judge’s son was murdered in their home nearly three years ago.

The total includes nearly one-third of active and retired federal judges, according to a new report.

“Some cases have involved litigants angered by judges’ decisions in cases,” the report from the U.S. Courts system said on Friday. “And the home addresses of judges handling controversial cases have been circulated on social media.”

The rise in the number of judges seeking help to protect their personal information has increased following two specific incidents.

In June 2022, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was threatened by a man carrying a handgun and knife outside his home. The man, Nicholas John Roske, reportedly planned to kill the justice over his expected support to overturn Roe v. Wade.

President Joe Biden signed the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act into law in December. The new legislation limits the amount of personal information about federal judges can be shared in federal data sources.

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The act was named after the son of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas whose son was shot in her home in July 2020. The shooter shot her husband multiple times, who survived after his injuries.

The shooter, Roy Den Hollander, compiled personal information about the judge from public sources after appearing before her in a court case. He later died by suicide.

“This bill strengthens our democracy and ensures that federal judges can perform their solemn duty of administering equal justice under the law without fear of retaliation,” said the sponsors, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), both New Jersey senators who serve in the state where Salas is based.

The bill is also intended to help protect against other growing threats against federal judges.

In August, threats were made against Palm Beach, Florida, Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart after he signed a search warrant to approve the FBI’s search warrant on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.

A variety of demonstrations have also been carried out over the past year at the personal homes of Supreme Court justices related to abortion decisions. The Supreme Court has a separate system for protecting the personal information of its justices.