Home>Highlight>Bill allowing judges to seek emergency protective orders goes to Murphy’s desk

Senator Nicholas P. Scutari. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Bill allowing judges to seek emergency protective orders goes to Murphy’s desk

Measure cleared both chambers in broad bipartisan votes

By Nikita Biryukov, June 30 2021 2:49 pm

The State Senate unanimously approved a bill allowing current and former judges to seek emergency protective orders when targeted by or threatened with a series of crimes.

It now goes to Phil Murphy’s desk, having passed the Assembly in a unanimous 71-0 vote last week. It cleared the Senate 38-0.

Such orders would bar defendants from returning to the scene of a crime or contacting in any way the judge, the judge’s friends, co-workers and relatives.

They would also block defendants from possessing any guns and see them seized by authorities and bars such individuals from purchasing new firearms in the state.

Such orders must be approved in Superior Court within 10 days of their filing. That approval requires a preponderance of evidence. Individuals who violate the protection orders can be held charged with a crime in the fourth degree.

Such offenses carry penalties of up to 18 months imprisonment and fines of not more than $10,000.

The bill also upgrades harassment to a crime of the fourth degree and clarifies that cyber harassment already carries such penalties.

The bill comes after a gunman shot and killed Daniel Anderl, the son of Federal Judge Esther Salas, during an assassination attempt on the jurist. Salas’ husband, Mark Anderl was critically injured during the attempted assassination but has since recovered from the attack.

Last year, the legislature passed and Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a bill shielding the personal information of current and former judges, prosecutors and some law enforcement officers from disclosure and criminalizing the sale of such information.

The bill, named Daniel’s Law, passed with broad bipartisan support.

Wednesday’s measure had the backing of the New Jersey Judiciary. Alyson Jones, the courts’ liaison to the legislature, testified in favor of the bill.

She highlighted the growing number of threats the state’s judges received each month. That trend also exists on the federal level. Salas had been targeted by threats before the attempt on her life.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), the chamber’s Judiciary Committee chairman and the bill’s sponsor, said he expected similar legislation to come before the committee in the future, including bills that could provide similar protections for legislators, who he said also face threats.

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