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Judges should think twice about filling out warranty cards, signing up for alumni directories and even putting their titles on their suitcases’ luggage tags. Those are some of the tips in a new guide designed to help protect the privacy of judges and their families. The free, 21-page informational booklet has been distributed to hundreds of state and federal judges nationwide in response to several recent incidents involving attacks on judges and their relatives. “We’re hoping this is something the judges will keep around and pass to their families and kids,” said Leslie Ann Reis, director of the Center for Information Technology and Privacy Law at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, which published the guide along with the Chicago Bar Association. “It’s a list of dos and don’ts that allows judges to make reasoned decisions about providing information and conducting transactions,” Reis said. “We’re hoping it’s a document that empowers.” Reis, who was the guide’s lead author and editor, said a number of events have raised concerns about judges and their relatives’ safety, starting with the February 2005 murders of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow’s husband and mother in her Chicago home. In several states, such as Nevada, Oklahoma and Texas, violent courtroom incidents in recent years have prompted new rules allowing judges to bring guns to work. [NLJ, 11-30-06.] The guide may be reprinted into as many as 10,000 copies, Reis said. She said that she did not have the project’s cost estimates, but added that her center and the bar association have split the bill. Several members of the Chicago Bar Association’s 24-member privacy task force, which includes judges, lawyers and educators, worked on the guide. The task force, which was formed last year in the aftermath of the Lefkow incident, has also been working on a more comprehensive report about protecting judges. That report, which could be published in about two months, will include recommendations to increase penalties for threatening judges and their families and to restrict the government from giving out their information, said Collins Fitzpatrick, circuit executive for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and co-chairman of the committee that worked on the guide. In today’s digital world, Fitzpatrick said, the Internet is particularly of concern as it contains many tools that make information on judges readily available, such as online phone books and maps.

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