Gavel Grab

Tougher Penalties Ahead for Assaults on New York Judges

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation providing stiffer penalties for assaults on New York judges. The maximum penalty had been up to seven years in prison, and that will rise to up to 15 years.

Justice Harold Bauman of Sullivan County, who was pushed by a defendant into a bulletin board and a plate-glass window by a defendant after an arraignment, pushed for the legislation, according to a Thomson Reuters News & Insight article.

Bauman learned afterward that assaults on police officers, EMTs, prison guards and other public employees were punished by harsher penalties than those on judges.

“Judges deserve respect, and I think it highlights that. Sometimes, if you increase a penalty, it can be a deterrent,” said Assemblywoman  Aileen Gunther. She is one of two legislators who the judge reached out to regarding his concern.

According to Bill Raftery of the National Center for State Courts, a JAS partner group, laws raising the punishments for threats and attacks on judges have increased significantly in the last two years. In Tennessee, a law permitting judges to carry a weapon in the courtroom was signed into law, he said. The judges must first complete firearms training.

“The fortunate thing about judges is they’re sitting in a venue that’s open to the public, and that’s also unfortunate,” said Mary Celeste, president of the American Judges Association another JAS partner group.

“Of course you have security measures outside, but that doesn’t always equate to safety. We’re pretty much sitting ducks and an easy target.”

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