WASHINGTON, April 16 -
On January 31, Kaufman County, Texas, Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse had just pulled into work at the courthouse. He got out of his car and he started walking through the parking lot like he did every day, but Mark never made it to the courthouse to prosecute any other cases. He was ambushed, sprayed with bullets, and murdered in the parking lot. Officials are still uncertain of who murdered him.
Then on March 19, just after suppertime in Colorado, the top prison chief, Tom Clements, heard a knock at his door. When he opened the door, he was shot point blank; and he died in the doorway of his own home in his own blood. Clements’ suspected killer, Evan Able, resurfaced in Texas weeks later and died in a shootout with law enforcement officers in north Texas because he promised that he would not ever return to prison.
Just 11 days later back in Kaufman County, Texas, District Attorney Mike McClelland and his wife, Cynthia, were sitting at home when their home was invaded by intruders. Mike was shot 20 times and his wife, Cynthia, was also murdered. They were assassinated and murdered in their own home. District Attorney Mike McClelland had vowed to bring the scum to justice that had killed his assistant district attorney, Mark Hasse, but the assassins got all of them first: three fallen law enforcement officers and one family member.
And just yesterday, a woman in jail in Texas is accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill Assistant District Attorney Rob Freyer (a friend of mine) and to also injure the district attorney in Montgomery County, Texas, to mimic the Kaufman County shootings.
These attacks, Mr. Speaker, are really attacks on the symbol of the rule of law in the United States. These attacks also hit home for me and others of us who have worked at the courthouse. I spent part of my life as a prosecutor and a judge in Texas.
Bad guys come through the courthouse charged with everything from stealing to killing. And I, like many others, had threats on several occasions; but fortunate for me, law enforcement officers in Houston, Texas, made sure those threats were never carried out. But as we’ve seen this year, sometimes the bad guys are successful in attacking and killing folks that work at the courthouse.
Law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and judges do the work that many people just don’t want to, or will do. They deliver justice to criminals knowing that they face the threat of retaliation when they administer justice. These public officials enforce the rule of law for those who live outside the law.
That’s why I’m introducing the McClelland-Hasse Line of Duty Act. Senator Cornyn has introduced a similar bill in the Senate. This bill would beef up protections for prosecutors and judges who are in danger of retaliation and who are threatened with intimidation. It boosts the punishments for killing these officials or their family members of conspiring to commit these crimes against these individuals. The legislation also allows them to carry firearms in Federal facilities and Federal courts and other jurisdictions for their own self-protection.
Courthouse prosecutors and judges risk their lives every day to administer justice and create order in our communities. This legislation promotes security for those that secure justice for the rest of us. Because justice is what we do in America.
And that’s just the way it is.