The federal judiciary is calling for greater security to address security for judges. Data released by the Association of Administrative Law Judges and the National Association of Immigration Judges, shows that increasingly, judges and their families being threatened by people who were denied Social Security disability benefits or help with immigration matters. The data shows that on average, one threat is made each week against Social Security office personnel.
"It got the Social Security agency's attention. They finally decided, 'We'll put a guard in every office,' " said Judge Mark Brown, a regional vice president of the Association of Administrative Law Judges and the judiciary's point person on safety issues.
Complicating matters and increasing security risks is the fact that most Social Security and immigration judges do not have a bailiff or a security guard in their courtrooms -- many of which are located in leased office space rather than government buildings. "By the time claimants get to our courts, they have already been denied benefits and because of the near-record backlog in cases, they probably waited close to two years for a hearing," said Judge Randall Frye, president of the AALJ and a federal judge who hears Social Security disability claims in North Carolina.
The judges' groups suggested a number of security changes, including adding peepholes in doors so that guards can monitor proceedings in hearing rooms and entrances for judges separate from than those used by the public.