Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a bill barring the release of home addresses and other personal information belonging to current or former judges, prosecutors or law enforcement officials.
“In an ideal world, surely this law would be unnecessary,” Murphy said. “Our judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers come from every possible background. They are regular citizens who have answered the call to ensure that a society built upon the rule of law works just as equally for the have-nots as it does for those of privilege, but our world, as we know, is far from ideal.”
The bill, dubbed Daniel’s Law after Daniel Anderl, is named for the 20-year-old son of U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas who was slain during an assassination attempt against the judge.
The attack, carried out by an anti-feminist attorney dressed as a Federal Express delivery driver, left Salas’s husband, Mark Anderl, in critical condition.
The judge and her husband, who appeared to be in good health, attended the bill signing along with a bevy of officials that included New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner and both of the Garden State’s U.S. senators.
“Daniel’s Law will make a difference. It will protect judges from senseless acts of violence. This groundbreaking legislation provides significant safeguards that are needed to protect our justice system and the rule of law,” Salas said. “It is my sincere hope that New Jersey’s trailblazing bipartisan legislation can be a stepping stone to improvement of in the security of federal judges throughout the entire country.”
Among its other measures, Daniel’s law creates an Open Public Records Act exemption for portions of a document containing home addresses of judges, prosecutors and other law enforcement personnel.
It also bars businesses and individuals from knowingly publishing online such addresses or unpublished telephone numbers for judges or prosecutors and allows them to request published personal information be removed. Such removals must be completed within 72 hours.
“Daniel Anderl’s tragic death reminds us that the disclosure of personal information can leave judges and family members vulnerable to threats and violence,” Rabner said. “We are grateful to the Governor and the Legislature for taking this important step to provide common sense protections for active and retired judges and their families, along with others in the justice system, in the hope that a future tragedy can be prevented.”
The measure has a companion piece in Washington. That bill, sponsored by U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-North Bergen) and Cory Booker (D-Newark) and which would enact similar protections at a federal level, has won bipartisan support from U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
“Our work doesn’t end here. We must extend these privacy protections nationwide so no one lives through what Judge Salas and her husband lived through,” Menendez said. “This is about saving lives, and it’s also about protecting the independence of our federal judiciary.”
State Sens. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), Joe Cryan (D-Cranford), Bob Singer (R-Lakewood) and Nellie Pou (D-Paterson) and Assembly members Annette Quijano (D-Elizabeth), Craig Coughlin (D-Old Bridge), Ralph Caputo (D-Nutley) and Yvonne Lopez (D-Perth Amboy) sponsored the state bill.