Duluth, MN (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- Two bills are in the beginning phases of possibly becoming law related to protecting Minnesota County Attorneys from harm.
This action by the Minnesota House of Representatives comes in the wake of the shooting of Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell following a trial in December.
Tony Cornish who introduced the bill said in a blog that while he was working on this bill before the December shooting, the incident in Cook County did bring more attention to the measure.
Just over a month ago, mayhem reigned in the halls of the Cook County Courthouse in Grand Marais.
County Attorney Tim Scannell was gunned down, allegedly by Daniel Schlienz, a man who had just been found guilty of criminal sexual conduct.
Scannell fought for his life that day.
"You know, I went up and down a lot, and I had to keep saying to myself, while we're still in that room fighting, you better figure this out, because if you don't figure this out you're not going to figure anything out again in your life"
In the wake of Scannell being shot, new legislation is being introduced and debated.
HF 1879 would bring stiffer penalties for assaulting a prosecuting attorney.
Northland lawyers are all on board.
"It's pretty straight forward. It basically says if you're going to assault or attack or attempt to kill or kill a prosecutor you're going to face an enhanced penalty"
"There are definite differences between who you assault and that's one which would be high up in my priority"
Another bill HF 1829 isn't as popular.
The bill would allow county attorneys and their assistants to carry a concealed weapon into a courtroom.
Northland County Attorneys have mixed feelings about HF 1829.
"The answer is what our court system has done and they have done a good job of it, is to protect everybody that goes into the courtroom"
"I'm not a gun guy. I can totally envision wanting to carry a weapon but that's not my plan. That's not something I'm thinking about right now but I feel other people think differently and they should be precluded from having the rights other citizens have"
Scannell said he's feeling good and back at work in Cook County part time.
He testified this morning at a hearing for the two bills in St. Paul.
HF 1879 adds prosecuting attorney to the list of protected occupations under the first-degree murder statute, first-degree assault statute and fourth-degree assault statute.
The amended sections currently apply to peace officers and certain correctional employees.