CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2661, on Monday, June 15, 2009, under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. H.R. 2661 was introduced on June 2, 2009, by Rep. Gohmert (R-TX) and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, which took no official action.
H.R. 2661 would increase the penalty for making restricted personal information about judges, jurors, court officials, witnesses or informants "publicly available." The maximum penalty would be increased from five years in prison to ten.
Trial judges have been the targets of violence that has resulted in the deaths of at least 4 U.S. judges from 1979-2005. The Administrative Office of United States Courts estimates that almost 700 threats are made against judges each year. In one of the more recent and audacious attacks against a judge's family, the husband and mother of United States District Court judge Joan Lefkow were murdered in her home apparently by a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case that Judge Lefkow had dismissed.
Financial disclosure reports of Federal Judges are made public and can contain such sensitive personal information as residences, spouse's workplace, and children's school locations. Persons are able to obtain this information and can use it for improper means to retaliate or intimidate these judges. In an effort to safeguard these judges from assault based on the information required in a financial disclosure report, the House passed H.R. 660, the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007, which was signed into law by the president. The legislation established laws making it illegal to make information about judges and other court participants publicly available. The underlying bill would increase the maximum penalty for violating this law from five years imprisonment to ten.
A CBO score for H.R. 2661 is not yet available. The legislation does not authorize any expenditure.