Panel rejects bill on intimidation

March 12, 2006|By TYRONE RICHARDSON

The House Judiciary Committee voted down a witness intimidation bill that would have strengthened prosecution in cases of child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence.

Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy testified in favor of the House bill because she called the current law "a toothless tiger."

Last year, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. signed a bill that raised the penalty for witness intimidation in felony drug offenses and crimes of violence from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Margaret T. Burns, a spokeswoman for Jessamy, said the state's attorney was "disappointed" by the committee's decision Friday. In a written statement, Jessamy said: "This action is a slap in the face to victims, especially our most vulnerable ones, our children and victims of serious sex abuse and domestic violence."

Burns said Jessamy would lobby to strengthen the bill next year.

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