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Wash. AG announces approval of new courthouse protections

By Bryan Cohen | May 1, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the approval of a bipartisan measure Tuesday meant to extend current courthouse protections to all residents accessing the courts.

Ferguson proposed Senate Bill 5484, which extends protections granted to some legal, courthouse and law enforcement personnel to all Washington courthouse visitors. The bill makes committing a felony in and around the courthouse an aggravating factor for a judge to consider during sentencing and increases the penalty for misdemeanor assault in and around the courthouse to a felony. Both provisions of the bill would be put into action regardless of the victim.

"I'd like to thank all the legislators who voted to add new protections for the thousands of jurors, crime victims, defendants and family members across our state who access Washington courts," Ferguson said. "People should feel safe when they access the courts-no matter whether they are a judge or a juror."

The measure originally passed in the Senate by a 40-9 vote. The bill was amended in the House of Representatives to clarify when and where the protections apply and to increase notice to the public. The amended bill then passed the House 83-10 with five excused and the Senate 35-9 with five excused.

Engrossed Senate Bill 5484 was delivered to the governor on Sunday. If the governor signs the bill or allows 20 days to pass without signing the bill, it will become law.

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