Bill Seeks to Scrub Internet of Addresses of NJ Judges, Police
Proposed legislation that seeks to prevent the home addresses and phone numbers of judges and prosecutors from being published online has been expanded to set up protocols for having such posts taken down.
The bill, A1649, is an expansion of an existing law enacted in 2016 that seeks to block publication of such details about law enforcement officers. The bill was amended last Thursday, hours before officials announced that someone had opened fire on the Camden home of two police officers and their 10-day-old baby.
The expansion was proposed after the July shooting at the North Brunswick home of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in which her son, Daniel, was killed and her husband, Mark, was critically wounded.
Kimberly Yanta, president of the New Jersey State Bar Association, said it’s an issue for active and retired judges across the court system.
“These threats are an attack not just on individuals stewards of justice but on the entire justice system, a cornerstone of our democracy,” Yanta said.
“As the Honorable Esther Salas so eloquently stated, we may not be able to stop something like this from happening again, but we can make it harder for those who target us to track us down,” said lead sponsor Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, D-Union.
The full Assembly is scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday. It hasn’t yet gotten a Senate hearing.
The bill would allow police officers, judges and prosecutors to sue a person, business or association that publishes the information if they don’t take it offline within 72 hours of getting a written request to remove it. It would also require such information to be redacted before documents are released under the Open Public Records Act.
“What we’re looking to do is to have it so that this information can be scrubbed from the internet at this point, and right now that is not the case,” Yanta said.
Assemblyman Herb Conaway wonders: How does one know who the protected people are?
“I worry about that person who perhaps inadvertently posts something who then be subject to very heavy fines for wont of knowing who a judge is or who a prosecutor is and what their jobs are,” said Conaway, D-Burlington.
Yanta said the goal of the proposal is to have that information removed and protected and that not every disclosure necessarily carries enforcement risks.
“The act must be intentional in that it must really be knowingly, purposefully,” she said.