Several readers, via email and blog post, have asked for Article III Groupie's comments on the recent tragedy concerning the family of Judge Joan H. Lefkow (N.D. Ill.). On Monday, February 28, Judge Lefkow returned home to find that her husband, lawyer Michael Lefkow, and her mother, Donna Humphrey, had been shot to death. (For more extensive coverage, visit How Appealing, which has collected numerous news articles about these events.)
Suspicion in the murders has centered on the followers of white supremacist Matthew Hale, who was convicted last year of plotting to murder Judge Lefkow. Hale is now in prison awaiting sentencing. Judge Lefkow had presided over a trademark dispute between Hale's group, formerly known as the World Church of the Creator, and the Oregon-based Church of the Creator.*
Although she has been following this story closely, A3G has not blogged about it until now, mainly because she does not have much to say. On behalf of all UTR readers, A3G extends her deepest sympathies to Judge Lefkow and the Lefkow and Humphrey families. These events demonstrate, all too horrifically, the sacrifices that federal judges sometimes make in the course of performing their duties -- sacrifices that make them true American heroes. And, as various commentators and politicians have stated, the tragedy also underscores that the government can -- and must -- do a better job of protecting federal judges, their families, and their staff members.
A3G was also disturbed to learn that the internet may have played a role in these events. According to various news accounts, Lefkow family photographs and Judge Lefkow's home address were posted on white supremacist websites. It is possible that the killers obtained the Lefkows' home address from one of these sites.
As someone who regularly posts information about federal judges on the internet, A3G would like to ensure that the information appearing in her blog is not used for evil ends. She is cognizant of security issues when she blogs, which is why she does not publish personal identification information about judges, such as home addresses.** With respect to judicial photographs, almost all of the pictures A3G posts are either (1) already available on the internet, or (2) provided by the judge in question and used with the judge's permission.
But if you're a federal judge mentioned in Underneath Their Robes who believes that a particular reference to you in this blog presents a security issue, please e-mail Article III Groupie, so she can take immediate corrective action. While A3G firmly believes in the public's right to comment on (and even criticize) our federal judges, she obviously does not want any of them to be endangered in any way. Indeed, A3G is second to no one in her love of the federal judiciary. She could never forgive herself if she contributed, however inadvertently or indirectly, to any harm befalling a federal judge.
* Ironically, Judge Lefkow had granted summary judgment in favor of Hale's group (as noted here). Only after she was reversed by the Seventh Circuit did she order Hale to stop using the name "World Church of the Creator" -- or be fined $1,000 a day for non-compliance. (Links to various opinions and briefs in the litigation are collected here.)
** Obsessive readers of UTR may recall that the home address of Judge Susan J. Dlott (S.D. Ohio) and Stan Chesley was originally mentioned in the UTR Cribs post about their judicial mega-mansion. But A3G was merely quoting from an article about the house that appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer, a newspaper whose circulation is larger than UTR's tiny readership by orders of magnitude. At any rate, A3G has revised that post to omit the address.