Mr. President, I am speaking in favor of S. 378, the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007. I have had a personal experience with court security issues when I was a prosecutor, the chief prosecutor in Hennepin County.
We had a very tragic incident, where a woman who had emotional difficulties came into our courthouse with a gun and gunned down a woman--an innocent woman--who was the guardian of her father's estate and was simply there to help. This had been a long-standing litigation battle. She tracked her down at the courthouse and shot her to death, and shot her own lawyer. Fortunately, he did not die. He survived. But this happened only a few floors below my office. We went on to prosecute this woman, and she was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder and an additional 15 years for the attempted murder.
That is why I am such a strong proponent of this bill. The Court Security Improvement Act will significantly improve our ability to protect judicial officials and all those who help to protect the fair and impartial justice system in America.
The bill is going to improve court security by, first, enhancing measures that protect judicial personnel, witnesses, and family members of judicial personnel. I should note there is a provision in the bill that allows for State courthouses to apply for grants for things such as witness protection.
I will say, coming from running an office of nearly 400 people, but operating in a local court system as opposed to the Federal system, there are increasing problems for local prosecutors with witness protection. I can't even count the number of witnesses we had threatened during trials. We had a juror threatened who actually had to get off the case after a call was made to her home during a trial in a gang case. We are seeing an increasing number of cases where we have witnesses threatened. Obviously, we don't have the Federal Witness Protection Program in a local district attorney's office, so I am very pleased there are some provisions for this and some realization that this is a growing issue.
This bill would also increase funding for judicial security at the Federal and State levels. It would strengthen the relevant criminal penalties. It would authorize funds for the U.S. Marshals Service for judicial security. This is a good bill, and I stand in support of it.
Mr. President, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.”