Franken Pushes for More Security At Courthouses

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Senator Al Franken had a roundtable discussion with several law enforcement officials and Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell on Wednesday.

On Dec. 15, 2011, Scannell and another man were shot several times by 42-year-old Daniel Schlienz. The shooting happened after a jury convicted Schlienz of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. After hearing the verdict Schlienz went to his car, retrieved a handgun then opened fire, hitting Scannell and trial witness Gregory Thompson.

“I was shot once in the chest below my heart and twice in my right thigh,” said Scannell.

Thompson was hit three times and is undergoing rehabilitation after taking a bullet to the knee.

“I don’t have any direct problems from the shooting at this point,” said Scannell. “I still have some fitness issues that I’m working on, but I don’t have to go to rehab.”

Schlienz died on Dec. 27, 2011. The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office said he showed signs of medical distress.

The shooting spurred discussion on court security and motivated Hennepin County District Court Judge Lloyd Zimmerman to speak out.

Zimmerman refused to go to work after saying dangerous conditions existed at the Brookdale Court in Brooklyn Center, Ridgedale Court in Minnetonka and the Southdale Court in Edina.

“I totally understand why that judge didn’t want to go to work without some kind of security in place,” said Scannell. “I think it’s just as important for the people working at those courts and courthouses as it is for the people going into them.”

Since then, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved weapons screening at those three suburban courts.

Now Senator Franken is introducing legislation to give local courthouses in Minnesota and across the country access to tools and training to increase security.

“This law would actually make available federal equipment like metal detectors that are in the system that have been previously used and are functioning,” said Sen. Franken.

The Local Courthouse Safety Act will also give states authority to use existing grant money to improve security.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Edgar Linares Reports

“I want to thank him (Scannell) for showing up. It makes what happened more human more dramatic,” said Franken to Scannell. “It puts a real face on what can happen.”

Scannell was asked before the roundtable discussion if he wished Schlienz had survived.

“Personally I think it would have been better if he had survived and we would’ve been able to go through our justice process,” said Scannell.

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