Bipartisan Bill Package Introduced to Deter Courtroom Assault

Bills address attempted assault, increase penalties for assault in courtrooms
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

LANSING — Today, House Democratic Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), state Rep. Andy Schor (D-Lansing) and state Rep. Kimberly LaSata (R-Bainbridge Township) introduced a bipartisan, three-bill package that adds attempted assault to the section of law dealing with courtroom assault, and increases penalties for assault and attempted assault on courtroom personnel including law enforcement, judges, prosecutors and court reporters.

These bills are in response to a deadly courtroom assault in Berrien County, which left two dead and two injured, and an attempted assault in Ingham County in 2016, where police officers in the courtroom intervened before any physical or fatal harm occurred. The incidences took place in July and August 2016, respectively.

“We must protect and defend the process of justice in our courtrooms. These bills send a clear message that threatening or harming the people that serve in our courtrooms is unacceptable and will face increased consequences,” said Rep. Schor. His bill, House Bill 4303 adds “attempted assault” to the section of law that penalizes assaults on various officials, including personnel in courtrooms.

House Bill 4302, introduced by Rep. LaSata, would increase the penalties from a maximum of 10 years in prison to a maximum of 15 years when these assaults result in the serious impairment of a bodily function. “My husband and many other courthouse personnel would have lost their lives that day if it had not been for the brave sacrifices made by Bailiffs Ron Kienzle and Joseph Zangaro. It is my hope that these increased penalties deter future tragedies like ours from occurring in the first place,” said Rep. LaSata.

Rep. Singh’s House Bill 4304 updates the sentencing guidelines to reflect the increased penalty for attempted assault. Rep. Singh noted, “Making sure our courtrooms are safe is critical to ensuring that our justice system is effective. After last year’s tragedies in different areas of the state, one in my own community, it became imperative that we work in a bipartisan fashion to create a safer environment for all courtroom personnel.”