Democratic Buffalo Senator Tim Kennedy is proposing new legislation that would create greater protections for witnesses in criminal cases.
Current laws provide for a sentence of 2 to 4 years for anyone intimidating or tampering with a witness. Kennedy's legislation would elevate each of those actions to a class D felony with a maximum prison sentence of 7 years. According to the Senator, " This is a long-overdue measure that will help protect the integrity of the judicial system and protect the lives and safety of those witnesses who bravely step forward to ensure justice is served."
The action follows the use of Facebook by David McKitchen to intimidate witnesses connected with his drug trial in Erie County Court. The judge in that case found McKitchen's actions so heinous that she urged the state legislature to review the penalties for the offense.
Kennedy's efforts would also boost efforts for providing witness protection services.