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Statement on Signing Legislation on Witness Retaliation, Witness Tampering, and Jury Tampering

October 01, 1996

Today I am pleased to sign H.R. 3120, legislation to protect the integrity of our legal system and ensure the safety of our families.

The United States is a nation of laws. We have always been committed to making our legal system the best, the most effective, and the fairest in the world.

In the last 3 1/2 years, we have worked hard to live up to that fundamental obligation—putting more police on the street; getting gangs and guns and drugs off the street; introducing tougher penalties for a wide range of crimes; appointing more judges with the American Bar Association's top rating than any administration in 20 years.

Today we take an important new step. This legislation dramatically increases the punishment for those who would influence, tamper with, or retaliate against witnesses, jurors, and court officers in Federal criminal cases.

Let me be very clear: The integrity of our legal system depends on the integrity of our courts. And the integrity of our courts depends on individual citizens serving as impartial jurors—free from intimidation or temptation. We must see to it that juries decide cases based only on evidence presented in the courtroom. Our prosecutors must have a fair chance to make their case. Our fight against crime is too important, our system of justice too sacred, the security of our people too vital, for justice to be denied because a jury has been tampered with.

With this legislation, we send a simple message to those who would abuse our system of justice: When the integrity of our laws and the safety our people are at stake, we will take no chances.

NOTE: H.R. 3120, approved October 1, was assigned Public Law No. 104-214.

William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing Legislation on Witness Retaliation, Witness Tampering, and Jury Tampering Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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