Threats Against Federal Judges on the Rise

Threats Against Federal Judges on the Rise

( – Sitting behind the bench, responsible for the future course of defendants’ lives, judges have a challenging and sometimes dangerous job. Although people in trouble with the law bear the responsibility for their actions, judges and juries often find themselves as the target of anger as they make final decisions that affect real lives. In other cases that come before the court, judge’s rulings can affect Americans all across the country. Recent reports indicate the threats against federal judges in the United States are rising at an alarming rate.

What Happened?

On February 14, CBS News reported it obtained information from the US Marshals Service (USMS) showing that authorities investigated 457 threats targeting US federal judges in 2023. That was 157 more than in 2022 and a whopping 278 more than in 2019. The USMS, which protects the judiciary branch as a whole, stated the statistics show the threats investigated, but there could have been more than one threat per incident.

Several of the judges presiding over the cases involving former President Donald Trump (R) have received death threats. One of them was US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is handling the January 6 case against the former president. In August 2023, Texas woman Abigail Jo Shry allegedly left a message for the judge stating, “You are in our sights…we want to kill you.” The threat included not only her but her family as well. Shry is currently facing federal charges.

Another threat involved Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over Trump’s fraud case in New York. According to Rolling Stone, the federal judge and his law clerk have received numerous death threats since Engoron was assigned to the case.


In a January speech to the public, US Attorney General Merrick Garland called the increased threats toward public officials in general “disturbing.” He said the violent threats harm the “fabric of our democracy.” He promised that the Department of Justice would continue “protecting the American people.”

According to CNN, the US Marshals Service Director Ronald Davis spoke to a House Judiciary subcommittee about the matter. The director said he was “deeply concerned” about the rise in threats against Americans who work in the judiciary branch of the US government. He agreed with Garland, stating the incidents were a threat to “our democracy.” Davis said the threats were not only toward federal judges but “prosecutors and other court officials” too.

The plan to address the spike and quell the violent rhetoric is unclear.

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