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Georgia court sentences Atlanta gunman who killed judge to consecutive life terms

[JURIST] A Superior Court of Georgia [official website] jury Saturday sentenced [Atlanta Journal-Constitution report] Brian Nichols to consecutively serve seven life terms, four terms of life without parole, and 485 years following his conviction [CNN report] last month for the murders of court and law enforcement personnel [JURIST report] committed in a March 2005 escape from Atlanta's Fulton County Courthouse [official website], where he was in the midst of a retrial [USA Today report] for rape. While being escorted to court, he overpowered a Fulton County Sheriff’s Deputy and took her gun. Nichols proceeded to search for and kill Judge Rowland Barnes, court reporter Julie Ann Brandau, Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Hoyt Teasley, and US Customs agent David Wilhelm. He was taken into custody after what was described as the largest manhunt in Georgia state history. He later pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges against him.

US judges and court administrators have been increasingly focused on security issues [NCSC materials] following a spate of attacks, bombings and threats [JURIST reports] directed at judges, their families, and their workplaces in recent years. In April 2008 Ohio resident David Tuason was indicted for allegedly threatening to blow up the US Supreme Court building [JURIST report] and attack black men, including Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Other death threats [JURIST report] have been reported against Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and now-retired Justice Sandra Day O'Conner.

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