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I'm new to the field of law, and I have some questions about how judges and lawyers are safeguarded in high-profile cases where emotions run high. This includes cases involving political candidates or charging dangerous individuals such as gang leaders and cartel members.

Are there security measures in place to ensure their safety during and after these cases? Do these guys usually get secret service protection or something? It feels like it would be quite common for individuals with power to use the threat of violence to influence a judgment in their favor.

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  • In the case of Liberty Reserve, the judge's name was not made public IIRC. Oct 6, 2023 at 20:10
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    @user5623335 What are you referring to with "Liberty Reserve". Excuse me, I am a layperson.
    – AlanSTACK
    Oct 6, 2023 at 20:30
  • It was a website similar to PayPal used to send money, however it was based offshore in Costa Rica. As it was heavily used in criminal activity due to its anonymous nature, it was eventually raided. So many criminals, doing all sorts of crime, were likely to seek revenge so the name of the judge was kept private for safety. (In future, with something this small just Google it.) Oct 6, 2023 at 23:33

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Historically, at the federal level, security provided for the judicial branch by the General Services Administration and the U.S. Marshall's Service of the U.S. Justice Department is the main security for judges. This may have changed somewhat, however, due to recent judicial security legislation.

At the state level, there is a position known as a "bailiff" who provides security in the courthouse, often in conjunction with a county sheriff's office. Usually, there is little or not designated security for state court judges outside the courtroom.

Lawyers receive no security in these cases and must fend for themselves. Most law firms have internal policies about how to respond to threats along the lines of - don't allow person X to enter the building, keep shades drawn at times of high alert, and send one person to deal with potential intruders while calling the police and having everyone else flee out the back door if approached by a threatening person. I've been the person dealing with the threatening person a couple of times.

It feels like it would be quite common for individuals with power to use the threat of violence to influence a judgment in their favor.

This is actually extremely rare and usually handled by ordinary law enforcement rather than by a security detail.

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  • Is it actually that rare? What do they do when dealing with Mexican Cartels/Al Capone?
    – AlanSTACK
    Sep 1, 2023 at 21:54
  • @AlanSTACK It is actually very rare, far more rare than you would intuitively expect.
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 1, 2023 at 21:55
  • Since lawyers are just left to "fend for themselves". Do you know of any cases where a lawyer decided to drop out instead of prosecute/defend a high profile individual?
    – AlanSTACK
    Sep 1, 2023 at 22:03
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    @AlanSTACK Lots of lawyers have a policy of not taking cases where domestic violence is an issue because that (rather than cases with high profile individuals) is the predominant source of violence against lawyers. I had a colleague once who did that because she and her clerk had been shot by one when she was a magistrate.
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 1, 2023 at 22:54
  • @AlanSTACK Case in point: a judge is shot and killed at home (where there is no security staff) by a father in a custody case over which he presided earlier that day. This is the typical violence threat for a judge or a lawyer. cnn.com/2023/10/20/us/…
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 21, 2023 at 1:50
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In the federal realm, judicial protection is the responsibility of the United States Marshals Service, Judicial Security Division (JSD). Similarly, the same division provides protection to jurors in high profile cases as well. Further, in 2022, Congress passed the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act which prevents judicial officers and family members addresses and other personal information being posted online.

At the state level, court room security may be handled by the county sheriff, Marshall, to a constable. For example, the San Diego Superior Court once had the San Diego Marshall's Office handle all court security. However that Office was dissolved a few decades ago and the Office of the Sheriff handles the task.

It is not uncommon to not have any peace officer present if judge is hearing low level crimes or the court is in a rural area.

I hope this answer was helpful and wish everyone the best, Darren Chaker

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