Serious threats against federal judges, prosecutors spike


Serious threats against U.S. federal judges and prosecutors have spiked in recent years, data collected by the U.S. Marshals Service found.

The federal agency, which is responsible for the “security of federal court facilities and the safety of judges and other court personnel,” has seen a dramatic rise in threats targeting officials and attributes much of it to political hostility.  

There were 457 serious threats against federal judges, which required an investigation by the agency, in the 2023 fiscal year. That rose from 300 in 2022 and 224 in 2021. In 2020, there were 220 threats against federal judges and 179 recorded in 2019, the data show.

There were 155 threats against federal prosecutors requiring investigation in 2023, up from 93 in 2022. In 2021, there were 68 serious threats against federal prosecutors and 72 in 2020.

Marshals Director Ronald Davis told Reuters, which first reported the data, that the agency has seen the sharp rise in threats related to the country’s stark political divisions.

The spike began around the time of the 2020 presidential election, when courts saw a string of highly politicized cases, stemming from former President Trump’s refusal to accept that he lost.

Additionally, officials involved in Trump’s various legal troubles have reported threats linked to the state and federal criminal indictments and more than half-dozen civil lawsuits.

Officials have also reported threats from activists stemming from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Reuters reported.

Davis told the outlet that the Marshals Service has a “growing concern” about the threats that are fueled by political division and online hostility. In the past, threats were typically only from people who were upset with a judge’s decision in their own case, but now threats come from people who are upset about politics.

“The threat environment right now that is causing me concern is when people disagree with the judicial process or the government, and that turns into those verbal attacks,” Davis told Reuters. “And that is the beginning of the process that threatens the judiciary and threatens our democracy.”

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