It would be a crime to post online the addresses or phone numbers of judges, prosecutors or law enforcement officers, under a bill passed by the state Legislature on Monday.
Senate and Assembly votes on the bill, A1649, which passed without opposition, come in the wake of the July 19 fatal shooting at U.S. District Judge Esther Salas’s home in North Brunswick. A gunman who found her address online shot and killed her son and injured her husband. The judge, who was in the basement of her home at the time, was not injured.
Salas, in an emotional statement, had urged that actions be taken to protect federal judges’ privacy.
“Currently, federal judges’ addresses and other information is readily available on the Internet,” she said in August. “In addition, there are companies that will sell your personal details that can be leveraged for nefarious purposes. In my case, this monster knew where I lived and what church we attended and had a complete dossier on me and my family. At the moment there is nothing we can do to stop it, and that is unacceptable,”
“My son’s death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench.”
The legislation is named Daniel’s Law in honor of Salas’ son, Daniel Anderl, who had come home from college to celebrate his 20th birthday.
“This was a violent attack on a judge and her family that came right to their doorstep because the gunman knew where to find them,” state Sen. Joe Cryan, D-Union, a former Union County sheriff, said in a statement. “It was also an attack on the justice system and the rule of law that is administered with fairness. It’s a terrible tragedy that took the life of a young man with a promising future. This bill will honor the legacy of Daniel Anderl and respect the loving memories of his family.”
It prohibits people, government agencies and businesses from posting the home addresses and unpublished phone numbers of active and retired judges and state, county and municipal prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and any of these public officials’ spouses or children. Violations of the proposed law would be a crime of the third- or fourth-degree, punishable by fines, imprisonment or both.
The bill on Wednesday passed 39-0 in the Senate and 74-0 in the Assembly. It heads to the governor’s desk.
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Samantha Marcus may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.