Defendant Attack Shines Spotlight on Dangers to Judges

09 Jan, 2024 Liz Carey


Las Vegas, NV ( – An attack on a district court judge this week has shined the spotlight on the increasing dangers judges face on the bench.

On Wednesday, court cameras in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., captured the moment a defendant who was about to be sentenced for a violent crime disagreed with Judge Mary Kay Holthus’ decision and leapt across the bench to attack her.

Officials said Deobra Delone Redden, 30, was before Holthus for sentencing in a felony battery case where he had pleaded guilty for battery with substantial bodily harm. Moments before Holthus made her ruling, Redden tried to convince her that he had turned over a new leaf and didn’t need to be locked up. Redden told the court that he was “in a better place in my mind” and was holding down a job.

“I feel like I shouldn’t be sent to prison, but if it’s appropriate for you, then you gotta do what you gotta do,” he said in court video. His attorney had argued for a suspended sentence.

Holthus disagreed with him and sentenced him to jail time due to his crime and past convictions.

“I appreciate that but I think it’s time he got a taste of something else, because I just can’t with that history,” she said, before beginning to deliver his sentence.

When Holthus denied his request for probation, he leapt over the defense table and the judge’s bench to attack her. After landing on top of her, video shows him grabbing her hair and falling to the ground with the judge under him, and the American flag falling on top of them.

Within moments, court officials and attorneys were on top of Redden – some were even seen in the video throwing punches in an attempt to get Redden off of the judge. One courtroom marshall suffered a gash on his forehead and a dislocated shoulder. He was taken to a hospital for treatment. The judge also suffered minor injuries, but was not taken to the hospital.

“It happened so fast it was hard to know what to do,” Richard Scow, the chief county district attorney, said. Scow was prosecuting Redden for an alleged attack last year involving a baseball bat.

The attack comes at a time where judges face increased threats, experts said.

John Muffler, a former U.S. Marshall said the attacks are not rare.

“I think they’re very common,” Muffler told NBC News. “It is a national issue at all the levels facing judicial officers in and out of the court.”

In October 2023, Judge Andrew Wilkinson was found dead in his driveway in Williamsport, Md. Officials later determined that Pedro Argote, 49, shot the judge after losing custody of his children. Police later found Argote in a wooded area near Williamsport, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In February of 2021 a suspect in Mississippi attacked a judge in the middle of court. Sidney Newsome, 27, was in Pike County Justice Court on a domestic violence charge when he broke free from a bailiff and attacked Judge Aubrey Rimes. Video of the incident showed Newsome picking up objects on the bench and throwing them at Rimes.

Sidney Newsome, 27, was in Pike County Justice Court last month on a domestic violence charge when he began throwing things at Judge Aubrey Rimes, according to NBC affiliate WLBT. Newsome appeared to get loose from a bailiff who seemed to be walking him out of court, according to the footage.

And in 2020, an attorney who lost his case before federal Judge Ester Salas allegedly traveled to the judge’s New Jersey home. Disguised as a FedEx delivery driver, Roy Den Hollander, a self-proclaimed anti-feminist lawyer, allegedly approached the Salas’ home and shot her husband, Mark Anderl, and her son, Daniel Anderl, 20. Mark was critically injured, and Daniel was killed. Police later found Hollander dead in an apparent suicide. Officials said Hollander targeted Salas because of her interactions with him in court.

According to the U.S. Marshals Service there were more than 4,500 threats and other potentially dangerous interactions toward judges. Since 1979, four federal judges have been murdered.

"Family court judges are more prone to experience threats or violence mainly because they are dealing with highly emotional family matters such as child custody and claims of domestic violence," James T. Richardson, a professor of sociology and judicial studies at the University of Nevada, Reno told NPR. "Being a judge is a very trying occupation, and it takes its toll on many judges,"

In Las Vegas, Redden will be back in court on Jan. 9 to face multiple charges of battery and battery against a protected person, officials said.

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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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