Judge Kane Speaks on Risks to Judges

March 11 2005, 2:18 PM

The murder of Chicago federal judge Joan Lefkow's mother and husband may now be solved, but her sister, a Denver resident, remains in protective custody. Federal Judge John Kane spoke to 9 News about the risks federal judges have to assume when they take the bench:

Kane says the case has his own colleagues and family thinking twice about their safety. "You look a little more carefully when you get in the car. You think about some of the cases in the past that you've decided and ask, is there any (threat) lurking in there?" Judge Kane has had two death threats in his 28 years on the bench, but says what happened in Chicago is still extremely rare. Federal marshals do what they can to protect judges -- but the risk is ultimately something they accept as part of the job. "All the security in the world isn't going to help you," Kane says. "If somebody wants to get you, they can. And if that's going to affect you, you need to find another line of work."

With the murder of a judge and his court reporter in an Atlanta courtroom today, and the killing of Cortez lawyer Richard Luhman in his office last week, allegedly by the husband of a divorce client, there are serious safety issues that need to be addressed. It would be helpful to see some statistics of such occurrences over a period of time. Solutions should not rushed and we should not create a one-size-fits-all response. There are clear differences in these three killings. One occurred in a judge's home. The courtroom killer didn't bring a weapon into the courthouse, he reached over and took the sheriff's deputy's weapon. And the attorney's killing took place in his law office. It seems to me that each of these occurrences present different risks and warrant different corrective measures.