New Jersey man arrested for threatening to kill federal judge

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Jonathan Williams, of Newark, New Jersey, is pictured in this undated handout photo. Essex County Department of Corrections/Handout via Reuters

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  • Prosecutors say Jonathan Williams threatened to kill federal judge in New Jersey
  • Williams had civil cases before U.S. District Judge Peter Sheridan

Nov 4 (Reuters) - A New Jersey man has been arrested and charged with threatening to assault and murder a federal judge who was overseeing a lawsuit he had filed, including by telling one of his clerks that he would "put a bullet in the judge's brain."

Federal prosecutors announced the charges against Jonathan Williams, 46, late Wednesday at a time of heightened concern for judges' safety after a disgruntled attorney last year shot and killed the son of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in New Jersey and wounded her husband.

Prosecutors did not identify the judge that Williams allegedly threatened to kill. Court officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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A lawyer for Williams could not be immediately identified.

Prosecutors said that on Monday, Williams called the judge's chambers and told a courtroom deputy that he needed a civil case he had filed to get before a jury immediately "to get my settlement."

According to a criminal complaint, he called the judge's chambers again later that day and while discussing his case told a law clerk: "Before the snow starts falling on my head, I'm gonna put a bullet in the judge's brain... he's a scumbag."

Prosecutors said that after the U.S. Marshals Service was contacted, Williams again called the judge's chambers and, with members of the Marshals Service present, told a court employee: “You’ll see! You’ll lose your job when I kill your boss."

The next day, on Tuesday, Williams arrived at the entrance of a law firm office in Newark. After two security guards denied him entry, Williams told them he was "going to blow the judge's brains out" before leaving, prosecutors said.

The complaint did not identify the law firm.

The case is U.S. v. Williams, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 21-mj-15460.

For the United States: Dean Sovolos of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey

For Williams: Unknown

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Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Nate Raymond reports on the federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at nate.raymond@thomsonreuters.com.