From the Daily News of Los Angeles, November 23, 1986:
Judges, DAs Fear Revenge From Convicts
McClatchy News Service
SACRAMENTO—The remark—surfacing in federal court during one of Manson follower Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme's sermons—turned U.S. District Judge Thomas J. MacBride cold.
The judge recalls that Fromme told him: "I know the style in which you live. I know about the baby grand piano in your front room."
"It was a creepy feeling, no question about it," MacBride said. "She knew where I lived. My address is not in the phone book. My number is unlisted."
As it turns out, no one harmed MacBride. But his encounter with fear reflects a reality of life for judges, prosecutors and others who help to put people in jail.
Revenge is always a possibility.
On Tuesday, that reality crystallized as an arsonist's hateful grudge led to the slaying of the former Marin County district attorney, William Weissich, who handled his case 31 years ago.
As an inmate in prison and, later, as a free man, the arsonist, Malcolm Schlette, had harbored hatred for Weissich. What is unusual about the Tuesday tragedy is that the hatred lingered so long before exploding in violence.
Throughout Fromme's three-week trial for attempting to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975, MacBride lived in a world insulated from any harm that the disciples of mad murderer Charles Manson might have worked against him.
The judge was shadowed by federal marshals by day. His house was guarded at night.
Nothing happened. And today MacBride does not fear retribution from the Manson gang.
But threats do happen, Sacramento area prosecutors and judges said Thursday. Fortunately, though, feelings of rancor are almost always forgotten in time. Fatal violence seldom shatters courtrooms or the offices of prosecutors.
It has not happened here, as in Marin County. Not in recent memory, at least.
But still there is fear. There are outbursts of anger.
"We're prosecuting hundreds of crimes a day, and it certainly is not the case that a lot of those cases result in threats," said assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Ken Peterson, a spokesman for the Sacramento County prosecutor's office.
"But it does happen. And it only takes one time to startle you a lot ... to make you very concerned."
This concern has caused some local prosecutors and judges to obtain permits to carry guns.
Eight of the 11 concealed weapons permits issued by the Sacramento Police Department have gone to court officials. About 100 of the more than 600 concealed-weapons permits issued by the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department have gone to people with court or law enforcement backgrounds or their family members.
Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Joe Maguire has one of the gun permits. His life or well-being has been threatened three or four times in four years as a prosecutor.
"I'm in court with criminals all the time," he said. "I'm kind of in close proximity to them where they can see me. I'm their adversary.
"So it at least creates the question about whether there might be some retaliation at some point, although I generally think there won't be.
"I tend to think the chances of something happening—the probabilities—are probably low."
Judge MacBride recalls that he, his secretary and marshals for years kept a picture of one defendant, just in case. The man was forbidden to return to California during his parole because of the perceived threat.
And Yolo County Municipal Court Judge William Lebov, when a prosecutor, had a rape-case defendant lunge at him, leap on the prosecution table and say, ''I'm going to kill you," before the defendant was restrained. The man is out of jail now, and Lebov has seen him on the street several times.
"I have no indication he's harboring a grudge," Lebov said. "I say it was a reaction at the time of the verdict."
Prosecutor Peterson said that family members also create fear.
In Sacramento, he recalled, one mother of a rape defendant was barred from her son's sentencing after she refused to be searched. Reports had surfaced that she had purchased a shotgun and threatened a prosecutor.
For weeks after the threat, drapes were drawn on the windows of the prosector's second-floor office to discourage a drive-by shooting. The prosecutor always was accompanied to his car.
"The tension blew over after a while and—to some extent—most of us forgot about it," said Peterson.
"Most deputy D.A.s are never threatened, but then it happens to one, and everyone hears about it."