Scotland faces crisis in recruiting new judges

From Scottish Legal News:

Less than a month after a warning by Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, that the English legal system was facing a ‘ticking time bomb’ in its failure to recruit judges, Scottish Legal News can reveal that Scotland too is facing such a crisis with top quality candidates spurning elevation to the bench.

Our enquiries among leading QCs found that most had no appetite to become judges citing hostile media coverage, lack of respect for the judiciary, relatively modest pay and pension packages, a backlog of distressing child sex abuse cases and concerns over judicial independence as well as the isolation and strenuous work load.

When incentives to enter a profession drop, the number of people seeking that profession drop as well.

UK courts: sip your drink before entering to prove it’s not acid

Following a surge of acid-throwing attacks across the United Kingdom, courts across England and Wales are asking visitors to take a sip from any bottles they bring into the courthouse.  There are already reports of long security lines at one courthouse that has implemented the new policy.

 

New Jersey may prohibit publication of judges’ home contact information

The New Jersey legislature will consider bills to prohibit publishing or posting the home addresses and phone numbers of state judges and prosecutors.  Violating the prohibition would carry a potential 18-month prison sentence and a fine of $10,000.  The bill also contemplates civil penalties.

The proposal comes amid increased awareness of direct threats to the judiciary. Just yesterday, a Florida man was arrested on multiple counts of threatening and stalking judges in Broward County.  And the Texas legislature recently passed bills to beef up courthouse security and designate attacks on judges as hate crimes.

 

Helicopter drops grenades on Venezuelan Supreme Court

A police helicopter dropped four grenades on the Venezuelan Supreme Court building yesterday, and also fired at least 15 shorts at the Interior Ministry, in an apparent attack on President Nicolas Maduro and his supporters.  No one was injured.

Earlier this spring, the United States imposed economic sanctions on individual members Venezuela’s Supreme Court for their role in perpetuating Maduro’s illegitimate and catastrophic regime.

Iowa Supreme Court bans firearms in all state courthouses

In an order issued by Chief Justice Mark Cady, the Iowa Supreme Court yesterday banned firearms from all courthouses and justice centers in the state. The statewide regulation does not extend to law enforcement officials who are on duty in the buildings.

Although about half the counties in Iowa already restrict or ban weapons in courthouses, the Supreme Court rule creates a uniform statewide regulation.

Cady said in the order said that while the weapons policies were implemented to make the courtrooms safer, they have “failed to provide uniform protection across the state and throughout every courthouse.”

He acknowledged implementing a statewide weapons policy and the issue of restricting weapons is difficult, and this becomes more complex because city and county offices are within many court buildings. But he added it’s the court’s “constitutional responsibility” to make these buildings safe “before history records more acts of courthouse violence.”

Texas legislature passes bill designating attacks on judges as hate crimes

The bill would make attacks on judges and police officers–whether verbal or physical–a hate crime in the state.  “Terroristic threats” could carry a two-year prison sentence, a simple assault could lead to up to 20 years in prison, and assault leading to serious bodily injury could be punishable by 99 years to life in prison.

The bill now advances to Governor Greg Abbott for signature.

Texas House passes court security bill

The Texas House of Representatives has given preliminary approval to a bill that would create a judicial security division and would fund training for court security.  The bill was named to honor Judge Julie Kocurek, who was severely injured after being shot outside her home in 2015.  Texas Chief Justice Nathan Hecht pushed for the bill’s passage during his State of the Judiciary speech in February.