Assembly OKs judge protections

CARSON CITY — The Assembly voted Tuesday for a judge-protection bill that was sought by a Reno judge wounded by a man who was going through a contentious divorce and had just killed his estranged wife.

Assembly Bill 99, now moving to the Senate, was sought by Washoe County Family Court Judge Chuck Weller, who said he started focusing on court security issues after being hit in June 2006 by a bullet fired through the window of his chambers by Darren Mack.

Weller, who handled the divorce of Mack and his estranged wife, Charla, also said that nationally the number of threats against judges grew from 200 in 1997 to 1,400 in 2008.

The bill originally sought enhanced penalties for crimes committed against judges and many others involved in the judicial process, but the enhancements were dropped.

Other provisions to protect jurists remain, including one allowing judges and justices of the peace to list phony addresses when they apply for documents such as a driver’s license or when they file for re-election.

Critics of AB99 had raised concerns that it could create an “elite class” of citizens with more rights than others. Originally, the bill would have extended the right to file phony addresses only to district court and Supreme Court justices, but it was amended to include municipal courts and justices of the peace.

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