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Laws for the Protection of Judges’ Personal Safety

by Bill Raftery

November 24, 2021

In 2020, an attorney approached the home of New Jersey federal Judge Esther Salas with a gun. Judge Salas was not home; however, her son Daniel Anderl answered the door, and as a result, he was shot and killed by the assailant. While this was by no means the first attack on a judge or their family in their home, the case galvanized the New Jersey legislature and other state legislatures to reexamine public access to information about judges. Three states, in particular, have made updates to their laws in the last year.

In 2021, Colorado enacted a law (HB 1015) that allows all protected persons, including judges, to submit a written request to a state or local government official to remove personal information, as defined in the statute, from public records that are available on the internet. The Colorado bill is like the one enacted in Florida (HB 781). It allows judges and others to request their personal information to be restricted from public release or access through records held by county and other officials. These provisions are similar to ones found in a New Jersey November 2020 law which prohibits disclosure of certain personal information of active, formerly active, and retired judicial officers and their family members. It also establishes a criminal and civil action for disclosing such information. The New Jersey law is referred to as “Daniel’s Law” a reference to the killing of Daniel Anderl.

Several states have considered similar legislation in 2021 to protect the release of personal information regarding judges and their homes including Illinois (HB 2937), Kentucky (HB 141), Maryland (HB 686), Massachusetts (SB 1151), and New York (AB 3089 and AB 7600).

While much of the impetus behind this recent activity came from the attack on Judge Salas’ family, some of these statutes predate the 2020 killing. The list below shows some of the states with existing statutes in this area.

Arizona

ARS 11-483, 11-484, 13-2401, 16-153, 28-454, 39-123, 39-124

Georgia

OCGA § 50-18-72 (a) (21)

Illinois

Judicial Privacy Act (705 ILCS 90/1 et. seq.)

Indiana

IC 36-1-8.5; IC 35-44.2-4-1; IC 5-14-3-10

Iowa

Iowa Code Chapter 22.7(11)

Kansas

K.S.A. 54-221 (51) and K.S.A. 45-221(52)

Oregon

ORS 192.355

How is your state seeking to address issues related to judicial safety and security?  Share your experiences with us at Knowledge@ncsc.org or call 800-616-6164.  Follow the National Center for State Courts on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Vimeo.