Federal judiciary seeks $1.5B for security, IT, construction upgrades, including Fort Wayne courthouse

The United States federal judiciary is requesting more than $1.5 billion to support courthouse security, information technology and courthouse construction projects, including funding to upgrade the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana’s Fort Wayne location.

Asking for $1.54 billion as part of any infrastructure bill enacted by the legislative branch, Eastern District of New York Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf, secretary of the U.S. Judicial Conference, and Kansas District Judge John W. Lungstrum, the coonference’s Budget Committee chair, signed a letter this month citing “crucial” needs faced by U.S. courts that they allege must be addressed as part of legislative negotiations between Congress and the White House.

“In the event the budget reconciliation process is utilized to pass an infrastructure bill, we ask that reconciliation instructions for the appropriate authorizing committees be included in the budget resolution to ensure that the Judicial Branch’s infrastructure needs can be addressed,” the federal judiciary wrote in the July 12 letter addressed to budget committee leaders.

Of those funds, $634.3 would help fund new courthouse construction, $515 million would go toward cybersecurity and IT modernization, and $389.5 million would aid in judicial and courthouse security.

Within the construction funding, $78 million was requested to address security deficiencies at federal courthouses including the Indiana Northern District Court’s Fort Wayne location, as well as locations in Georgia, Vermont and Mississippi.

A courthouse would also be built in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with an allocation of $262.2 million, plus another $294.1 million to provide remaining funding for new courthouse projects in Connecticut and Tennessee.

Requests for court security funding arose from mounting fear and safety concerns after multiple attacks on personnel and court buildings took place last year.

In one instance, a lawyer who posed as a FedEx deliveryman to gain access to the home of New Jersey District Judge Esther Salas murdered her son and critically wounded her husband at the front door of their residence.

To help prevent similar acts in the future, the judiciary is seeking $112.5 million to help courthouses withstand attacks and $10 million to proactively manage security vulnerabilities at all levels of the federal court system.

An appropriation of $267 million for the Federal Protective Service would be spent on upgrades to aging exterior perimeter security cameras at federal courthouses and other court facilities. House Bill 3237, which included that judicial security funding, passed the House of Representatives in May. The Senate had yet to take further action on the bill as of July 23.

Funding for cybersecurity and IT was also requested following a combination of sharp increases in the number of cyberattacks on judiciary IT systems, aging legacy applications critical to court operations, and funding shortfalls leading to IT vulnerabilities.

About $149 million in funding would help expand the judiciary’s IT Security Operations Center and upgrade multifactor authentication and identity confirmation technology. It would also strengthen “end point” security to ensure that only authorized devices can access judiciary IT systems and integrate IT security at every phase of software development, testing and implementation, using a process known as DevSecOps.

Also, funding of $212 million would help replace the Probation and Pretrial Services Case Tracking System used to supervise defendants awaiting trial and individuals released from prison.

Finally, money for application modernization would help update the jury management system and a new eVoucher system used pay 14,000 private attorneys appointed by federal courts to represent defendants.

The judiciary’s full letter can be read online. 

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