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Bill Would Help Protect Judges, Law Enforcement Officials by Keeping Locating Information Private

Trenton – To help protect the safety and security of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers, a Senate committee today approved a bill sponsored by Senator Joe Cryan, Senator Nick Scutari, Senator Nellie Pou and Senator Bob Smith that would keep their home addresses and phone numbers from public disclosure.

The bill, S-2797, approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, would prohibit the disclosure of the home addresses of current or retired federal, state, and municipal judicial officers, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, their spouses and their children.

The senators acted in response to the fatal attack targeting a federal judge in New Jersey. Daniel Anderl, the 20-year-old son of U.S District Judge Esther Salas, was shot and killed when he opened the front door of the family’s home to an armed assailant who was able to locate the residence by accessing their address. Judge Salas’s husband, Mark Anderl, a prominent attorney, was seriously wounded in the shooting.

Judge Salas has called for measures to better protect the privacy of judges as a means of honoring her son.

“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,” said Senator Cryan (D-Union), a former Union County Sheriff who oversaw courthouse security in Union County. “It’s a terrible tragedy that took the life of a young man with a promising future, left his father seriously wounded and caused heartbreaking loss for a judge who is also a mother and a wife. This bill will honor the legacy of Daniel Anderl and respect the loving memories of his family.”

“We must act to protect our public officials and their families from potential attacks. The targeting of Judge Salas at her private residence by a gunman, resulting in the tragic death of her son and the serious wounding of her husband, underscores the need for us to do more to protect our judges and their families,” said Senator Scutari (D-Union), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Domestic terrorism is a very real threat in today’s society. Not long ago, a gunman attempted to take the life of then-Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, another gunman opened fire at a congressional softball game and, most recently, there was the foiled plot to kidnap and murder the governor of Michigan. This is a vital first step in ensuring the safety of our public officials in New Jersey.”

“Judges and other court officers who serve our legal system deserve to be protected from any possible attack or retaliation for merely performing their sworn duties. What happened to Judge Esther Salas, and her family, and in particular the fatal shooting of her son, Daniel, in his own home, must never happen again,” said Senator Nellie Pou (D- Bergen/Passaic). “This law, restricting access to home addresses of judges and others who work in our court system will add a needed layer of protection for these public servants.”

“As a representative and resident from Middlesex County, I was shocked, heartbroken and angered by the home attack on Judge Salas and her family, which left her husband critically wounded and ended in the death of her son, Daniel,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “The Salas family are among my constituents, so it is important for me that I am a part of any action we take in response to this horrific incident. We have to do more to protect our judges and prosecutors from violent retaliation, especially in a time when people are actually planning physical violence against civil servants.”

The measure would make it a third-degree crime to “knowingly and purposefully” disclose this information to expose another to harassment or risk of harm to life or property, punishable by three to five years in prison, a fine of $15,000, or both. Making public this information with “reckless disregard” for the risks it may cause to another would be a fourth degree crime, punishable by up to 18 months in prison, a fine of $10,000, or both. The legislation would also establish civil liabilities.