January 4th, 2010
05:09 PM ET

Report: Threats against federal judges, prosecutors rise sharply

Alan Silverleib

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/CRIME/01/04/judges.threats/story.lefkow.gi.jpg caption="U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2005." width=300 height=169]

The number of threats against federal judges and prosecutors more than doubled over the past six years, according to a report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The number of threats and "inappropriate communications" made to federal judges, U.S. attorneys and assistant U.S. attorneys increased from 592 in fiscal year 2003 to 1,278 in fiscal year 2008, the report says.

During that six-year period, 5,744 threats were directed at those federal officials, the report says.

The report concludes that the U.S. Marshals Service's program for protecting judges and prosecutors is hampered by a number of deficiencies.

"We believe the [Justice] Department must promptly address these deficiencies to ensure the safety of federal judges, U.S. attorneys ... and other federal court officials," said Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine, who released the report.

The Marshals Service, which is overseen by the Justice Department, bears primary responsibility for protecting more than 2,000 federal judges and roughly 5,250 other federal judicial officials. The service had a $344 million judicial protection budget in fiscal year 2008.

Among other things, the report says threats made against federal judges and attorneys are not "consistently and promptly reported." As many as 25 percent of all threats made during the period covered by the report were not passed on to the Marshals Service, the report states.

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