Washington State bills would require cities and counties provide courthouse security

With but a few exceptions, security for state courts is provided by local government, typically through the office of sheriff.  The extent to which the courthouse and individual courtrooms are secured is often left to the sheriff or local government, which some localities providing no security at all.

Washington HB 1365 and SB 5240 would change this practice in that state by amending existing law that already requires counties provide “furniture, books, stationery, postage, office eequipment, heat, light and telephone” to also provided “suitable, secure courthouses” (the language currently requires only that “suitable courtrooms” be provided and makes no mention of security).

In addition, the bills would add new provisions into law regarding security (the following is for cities, the county-specific provisions are identical).

Cities shall provide security to municipal courts in order to:

(1) Promote the safety and security of all court facilities and proceedings;

(2) Ensure access to court proceedings as guaranteed by Article 1, section 10 of the Washington state Constitution; and

(3) Assist judges in carrying out their respective constitutional and statutory duties.

The House version is before the Local Government committee while the Senate is before the Law & Justice Committee, the new name for the Senate Judiciary Committee.