Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Judges Get Threats over Treatment of Fathers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Judges Get Threats over Treatment of Fathers

Article excerpt

Someone is sending letters to judges in Madison County that contain "veiled threats" against them over the way fathers are treated in child-custody cases.

The letters to all five judges in the Family Division arrived Monday and Tuesday and are signed by what authorities believe are fictitious names claiming to represent "Fathers for Families" in one letter and "Fathers for Family" in another.

State's Attorney William R. Haine said Wednesday: "We consider it to be an effort to intimidate the judges with veiled threats of personal violence, and we will use every resource we have to find out who this is, to prosecute them and to put them in jail. . . . We take this very seriously."

Haine and his investigator, Mark Ford, said they will ask for federal help from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and perhaps the FBI. Ford said he will ask the state crime laboratory to check for fingerprints on the letters, two of which remain unopened. All the letters carry postmarks from St. Louis.

One letter went to the five judges and the other one had been received by two so far, Ford said. He said he was investigating several people who had appeared in court recently, but no one was a solid suspect.

Associate Judge Lola Maddox said Wednesday that she and the other judges were concerned. "I don't know if frightened is the right word," she said.

She got both letters and said they seemed to be the work of someone who is articulate. She emphasized that the letters and their threatening tone could only hurt the cause of anyone with legitimate concerns about child-custody issues.

Associate Judge Robert P. Hennessey called the letters "definitely over the line" and "way out in left field." He said they easily could be interpreted as "somewhat of a threat."

Associate Judge George Filcoff said such letters "always are cause for concern."

Chief Circuit Judge Edward C. Ferguson, who did not get the letters but asked Haine to investigate, said one of them used more demanding wording and a stronger threat of violence. He said it went beyond the kind of angry or insulting letters judges often get from people concerned about specific cases or legal issues. …

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