Group Calls for Better Security for Judges

In a meeting presided over by ailing Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist (search), federal judges on Tuesday called for urgent measures to improve judicial security as a result of the recent fatal shootings of two judges and some family members.

The Judicial Conference of the United States (search), the policy-making body of the federal judiciary, approved a resolution asking the Justice Department and the U.S. Marshals Service (search) to devise ways to improve security, particularly at judges' homes. It also asked Congress and executive officials to boost funding for the initiatives.

"Addressing this matter is of the highest urgency to the conference and will be the top priority in the judiciary's discussions" with officials in the coming days, states the resolution, passed following the two-hour, closed-door meeting presided over by Rehnquist, who has been ill with thyroid cancer and makes few public appearances.

The regularly scheduled meeting at the U.S. Supreme Court comes after the Feb. 28 fatal shootings of the husband and mother of U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow (search) at her Chicago home. Last week, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes (search) was one of three people killed in a shooting at an Atlanta courthouse.

"Judges all over the country are terribly concerned," said Judge Carolyn Dineen King of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who chairs the conference's executive committee, in a briefing with reporters afterward.