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Senate Passes Critical Court Security Legislation

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

The Senate Monday night unanimously passed legislation championed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) to help protect Federal judges, witnesses and officers from threats and attacks.

The Court Security Improvement Act will establish new criminal penalties for the misuse of restricted personal information to threaten or seriously harm judges and their families, or other individuals performing official duties, including witnesses and court officers. The bill also enhances penalties for tampering with or retaliating against witnesses, and provides new resources to improve security for state and local courts.

"The Senate has waited far too long to enact this legislation to protect those who guard justice in our court system," said Leahy. "There is no doubt that we must protect officials of the court from disgruntled or disturbed individuals seeking to harm them, and the Senate has finally moved forward to make more resources available to provide that security to our Federal judiciary."

"I commend my colleagues for passing this important legislation which provides for the security of our Federal judges," Specter said. "There is no doubt that there is an urgent need for additional court security, in light of a number of attacks on judges. The independence of our judiciary is fundamental in our society for the rule of law."

Leahy and Specter introduced the Court Security Improvement Act in the Senate earlier this year, and the legislation has received bipartisan support. The House earlier this year passed a similar measure. The bill passed Monday by the Senate incorporates language from the House passed bill, as well as provisions key to Senate passage. The bill will be sent back to the House for a final vote before it is sent to the President.

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