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Bill to enhance penalties for threatening court personnel sent to the governor

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Rep. Mike Gottlieb

Rep. Mike Gottlieb

Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to act soon on a bill that would make it a crime to threaten a justice, judicial assistant, and other court personnel with death or “serious bodily injury.”

The House voted 114-0 on April 27 to approve HB 67 by Rep. Michael Gottlieb, D-Plantation. The Senate voted 34-0 to grant final legislative approval on May 1.

The bill was sent to DeSantis last week. He has until June 7 to sign it, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

The measure would add justices, judicial assistants, court clerks, and court clerk personnel — and their respective family members — to an existing law that makes it a crime threaten police, firefighters, public officials, and others.

HB 67 would also make it a crime to harass a judge, justice, judicial assistant, or court clerk with the intent to “intimidate or coerce them” into performing, or refraining from performing, their lawful duties.

Gottlieb, a former prosecutor, said he filed the measure after a Broward Sheriff’s investigator was initially unable to pursue charges against a former inmate who targeted 17th Judicial Circuit judges with hundreds of harassing and threatening phone calls.

“There’s been some issues in the court system,” Gottlieb told a justice appropriations subcommittee. “This bill would cure that by making it a first-degree misdemeanor.”

Sen. Tina Polsky, a fellow Democrat and South Florida lawyer, sponsored the companion, SB 174.

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