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Measure Extends Courthouse Protection Laws

May 1, 2013

The Legislature has approved a measure proposed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson to extend current courthouse protections to all residents accessing the courts.

Ferguson said. “People should feel safe when they access the courts—no matter whether they are a judge or a juror.”

Last year, Stephen Kravetz was charged with assaulting Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Deputy Polly Davin and stabbing Grays Harbor Superior Court Judge Dave Edwards at the Grays Harbor County Courthouse. Kravetz is reported to have accessed the courts to destroy records when confronted by the deputy.

“Courthouses by their very nature attract conflict—and angry, disgruntled and desperate people often resort to violence when faced with conflict,” said Senator Adam Kline, D-Seattle, who sponsored the bill. “People should feel safe when they enter the halls of justice.”

Senate Bill 5484 extends protections to all visitors to Washington courthouses. The bill increases the penalty for misdemeanor assault in and around a courthouse to a felony, regardless of the victim, and makes committing a felony near a courthouse an aggravating factor during sentencing.

It originally passed the Senate 40-9. It was amended in the House of Representatives and passed 83-10. The Senate agreed to the amendments and passed the bill 35-9.

The Governor has 20 days to sign. After this deadline, if he has not signed the bill, it will become law without his signature.

 

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