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Judicial Leaders Praise Federal Bill to Protect State Judges

Molly Justice
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Judicial Leaders Praise Federal Bill to Protect State Judges

Williamsburg, Va., March 20, 2024—National court leaders praised the introduction of new legislation in the United States Congress designed to help state courts address escalating threats of violence against judges, court staff, and the public. The legislation comes on the heels of a surge in both threats and actual acts of violence against judges across America.

The Countering Threats and Attacks on Our Judges Act, co-sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), is a vital step in ensuring the integrity of our judicial system.

“This legislation is a critical first step to helping increase the safety of every state court judge, our staffs and the public we serve,” said Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, president of the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the top judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

“In just the last several years, we have seen sitting state court judges, retired judges and family members threatened, assaulted, and even killed by disgruntled people,” said Greg Sattizahn, president of the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA).  “This is a very needed step and we are all grateful that Congress recognizes the need.”

The bill will establish a State Judicial Threat Intelligence and Resource Center to provide technical assistance, training, and monitoring of threats for state and local judges and court personnel; provide physical security assessments; and coordinate research to identify, examine, and advance best practices around court security. It will be housed within the existing State Justice Institute, a private non-profit and non-partisan corporation established by Congress in 1984.

“No judge in America should have to keep an eye over their shoulder when they pick up their kids from school or go to the grocery store,” said Mary McQueen, President of the National Center for State Courts. “This bill will help keep safe the men and women who uphold the rule of law, and we urge its swift adoption by Congress.”

In addition to NCSC, the bill is supported by a wide variety of professional judicial organizations, including CCJ, COSCA, the Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal (CCJSCA), All Rise, the National Association for Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers (NAPCO), the National Association for Court Management (NACM), the American Judges Association (AJA), the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ).