Judge who sent anti-vaccine mom to jail gets death threats

- Karen McDonald is the Oakland County judge at the center of recent anti-vaccination cases.

She is also the subject of numerous online threats after sending an anti-vaccination mother to jail.  The messages have come Social media and emails, some sent directly to the Oakland County circuit court website, regarding Judge McDonald.

McDonald recalled some of the messages that said "'Kill the judge.' 'Execute the judge.' 'Karen McDonald should die a painful death,'" she said.

There's even a YouTube video about Judge McDonald "should die."
She said her staff has made monitoring and reporting threats a part of their daily routine because it is so concerning. Now McDonald is worried the threats could affect her other cases.

"Litigants can essentially come in here and worry that judges are going to feel threatened for their physical safety," she said. "Because of a ruling or decision. That is not good for anybody."

Recently, Judge McDonald was involved in a case where she had to enforce a mother's agreement to vaccinate her kids after that mother changed her mind.

FOX 2: "Since the vaccine cases have the threats against you increased?"

"Yes," she said.

FOX 2 cannot talk with McDonald about the specifics of the vaccine case. It's an ongoing case and that would violate ethical rules for the judge.

But despite the threats, has any crime being committed?

"Well there's certain elements to any crime so the elements have to be delivered in particular to the person that is the target of the threat," said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard. "They have to articulate and be able to show that the threat is something that can be carried out."

Translation. No crime has been committed.

"I don't know where these threats are coming from," McDonald said. 

"We do contact a lot of these people sometimes and say you're dancing on the edge," said Bouchard. "Unless there is something that the prosecutor will issue charges on, we are kind of hamstrung."

Both agree that changes in legislation could be enacted to make those who threaten judges, a criminal.

"I think that the question is should we be doing something as a society that makes our judges feel safe against those comments," McDonald said.

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