Want to wish your favourite federal judge happy birthday? Be careful. Caveat birthday wisher. You could be sued.
The Daniel Anderl Judicial Privacy and Security Act could give rise to a civil cause of action if you post happy birthday wishes to your favourite federal judge, or otherwise post any personal data about a member of the federal judiciary or other federal government employee. The act is named for the son of Federal Judge Esther Salas. Her son was killed at her home at an attack aimed at her.
From the act:
5) On Sunday July 19, 2020, an assailant went to the home of Esther Salas, a judge for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, impersonating a package delivery driver, opening fire upon arrival, and killing Daniel Anderl, the 20-year-old only son of Judge Salas, and seriously wounding Mark Anderl, her husband.
(1) IN GENERAL.—An at-risk individual or their immediate family whose covered information is made public as a result of a violation of this Act may bring an action seeking injunctive or declaratory relief in any court of competent jurisdiction. If the court grants injunctive or declaratory relief, the person, business, or association responsible for the violation shall be required to pay the costs and reasonable attorney’s fees of the at-risk individual or immediate family, as applicable.
The safety of judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and all public officials is a serious matter especially in this day and age of the spread of false information and the encouragement of violent actions through the internet. The same groups that caused the insurrection at the Capital can easily threaten the lives of a prosecutor or federal judge they don't like. Not to mention threats against those who patronize pizza shops that traffic in minor children, or bloggers who run blogs (the early history of this blog is rife with attacks on us from local lunatics, including at least one now disbarred lawyer. Success breeds contempt, and in our case, Bar complaints.)
In running this blog, we are frequently confronted with messages (most likely from disgruntled litigants) attacking judges and their decisions and calling for harm to the judge. Of course, we do not publish such calumny. But the disturbing trend is that we receive more and more of these putative attempts to publish calls for attacks on a judge or prosecutor every year. Even an innocuous "happy birthday" message to a judge may put into the public more personal information than the judge feels comfortable with. For example, the Sovereign Citizens movement has been known to cloud the titles of the property judges own.
Here's an article about a brawl in a courtroom, including the judge who apparently landed some punches. Granted its Texas, but still, there seems to be less respect for decency in our court system. This comes, in part, from the disrespectful comments our idiot last president made about the judges who ruled against him.
In our community we have avoided such tragedies. But that does not mean it could not happen here. Security requires eternal vigilance. All it takes is one mistake.