Friday, March 14, 2008

House Makes Threats to Judges a Crime

The House gave final approval Thursday to a bill that would make it a crime to threaten a judge.

HB 1115 provides that a person who threatens bodily harm or death to a judge, or to a member of a judge's family or a person who lives in the same house as a judge, can be guilty of a class 4 felony if the threat is made knowingly or intentionally.

Criminal liability would attach even if the threat is not communicated directly to the judge. A violation would occur if "the individual intended that the communication would be relayed to the judge [or] if the other person is required by statute or ethical rule to report the communication to the judge."

The bill passed 59-6 after Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, warned that it might, in some circumstances, result in infringement of a person's constitutional right of free speech.

Sponsored by legislators of both parties, the bill now heads to the Senate.