01.08.08

President Signs Court Security Reforms Into Law

[CORRECTION:  President Bush today (Tuesday) signed legislation to improve security for federal judges, witnesses and officers.  Our Jan. 4 news release indicated that the bill had become law without the President’s signature at the end of the 10-day period for presidential signing, as provided by the Constitution, based on reports that the bill had been sent to the President on Dec. 24.  Since the bill was not sent to the White House until Dec. 27, the 10-day period would have expired Jan. 8, rather than Jan. 4.]
 
WASHINGTON (TUESDAY, Jan. 8, 2008) – The President Tuesday signed a bill to improve security for federal judges, witnesses and officers from threats and attacks.
 
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) introduced legislation in the Senate nearly a year ago to establish new criminal penalties for the misuse of restricted personal information or for threatening or harming judges and their families.  The House passed similar legislation in July, but final action on the bill first required several months of extensive negotiations across the aisle and between the Senate and the House.  Late last month the Senate passed amended court security legislation, including an additional measure addressing House “pay-go” concerns, to ensure House passage.  The House then passed the final legislation, sending the bill to the President on Dec. 27.
 
“I welcome the President’s decision to sign these important bipartisan reforms that will help protect judicial independence,” said Leahy.  “For almost a year, Senator Specter and I have worked to enact these steps to defend the integrity and security of our justice system.  Threats to judges and to other participants in the judicial system are threats to us all.  Congress passed this crucial bill to protect court officials and their families from those who would try to harm or intimidate them, and I am pleased that with the President’s signature, these reforms can now be put into place.”
 
In addition to imposing new criminal consequences, the Court Security Improvement Act also enhances penalties for tampering with or retaliating against witnesses, and it authorizes new resources to improve security for state and local courts.
 
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