Judicial Security in an Online Environment

You will all have read, with concern, about the shocking and tragic attack on Judge Esther Salas and her family and heard her Honour’s call for issues of judicial security to be addressed urgently: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/08/03/us/federal-judge-esther-salas/index.html.

The IAWJ has been contacted by the District and County Courts Technology Liaison Committee, a committee of judges in Australia and New Zealand at intermediate level, which is updating its 2018 confidential study of the impact of technology on judicial security issues. The New South Wales representative on this committee, Judge Judith Gibson, has asked us to pass on her request for our members to provide her with any research, statistics and/or personal stories from members, in relation to any aspect of any judicial security problems which are technology-related, where members consider this information would be helpful.

Judge Gibson’s email address is judge.gibson@courts.nsw.gov.au.

The report being updated examines security issues for the judiciary, ranging from pre-Internet personal attacks to online harassment and, in particular, examines cases where personal confrontation and violence (threatened or real) have been occurred. Some of the areas to be looked at in the report include:

· Specific problem areas for judges, such as efficient court security and confidentiality of address information;

· Specific “risk” work areas, such as family law/domestic violence;

· Websites attacking the judiciary and their ability to reinforce and magnify group anger;

· Use (and misuse) of social media and dealing with intrusive email, telephone and online communication, especially from querulents; and

· Proposals for changes to enhance judicial security, with particular reference to new security issues arising out of changes to the court system resulting from the coronavirus.

Judge Gibson regrets that the Committee cannot share the contents of the current report for security reasons but is prepared to exchange research information. She promises confidentiality for all contributions received.

This blog post was prepared by IAWJ member, Judge Judith Gibson. The views presented in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the IAWJ.