February 16, 2022
By Bill Raftery
In 2022, state legislatures have been busy with increased concerns over judicial security. Several states already moved to prevent access to the home addresses of judges and their families as well as the home information for other judicial personnel. A review of some of that legislation can be found in this 2021 Trending Topics piece.
So far there have been over 15 pieces of legislation introduced across 13 states seeking to protect the home addresses of judges and other court officials. The legislation has focused on 3 key areas:
- Several bills would make it a crime to release the home address or other personal information of a judge or his/her family. Some bills make the release itself criminal while others require an additional element, such as with intent to harass or threaten.
- Other bills focus on prohibiting access of the public by requiring that public entities and officials deny any request to release the addresses or other personal information. This takes two forms: either the judge may request the public entity remove or restrict the information or the information is simply deemed automatically exempted from public access.
- Others focus on the ability of a judge to require that the information be removed upon finding that the information is already available online or through a private entity.
A listing of the active pending legislation can be found below.
Is your state also looking to protect the personal information of judges and other court staff? Email us at Knowledge@ncsc.org or call 800-616-6164 and let us know. Follow the National Center for State Courts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Vimeo.
- Alabama SB 204: Makes it a Class C misdemeanor to knowingly disclose the home address or unpublished phone number of law enforcement officers, judges, and prosecutors with the intent of exposing them to harassment, the risk of harm to life or property, or with reckless disregard of the possibility of such exposure.
- Florida HB 391 / SB 432: Provides an exemption from public records requirements for certain identifying and location information of current and former judicial assistants and their spouses and children.
- Hawaii HB 1539 / SB 2116: Prohibits the posting of judges and other court staff personal information on the internet with the intent to intimidate or threaten. Establishes a judicial security task force to review and recommend additional measures to enhance the security of judges and judiciary personnel.
- Illinois HB 2937: Defines "internet data aggregator." Provides that it shall additionally be unlawful for an internet data aggregator to sell, license, trade, purchase, or otherwise provide or make available for consideration a judicial officer's personally identifiable information, regardless of intent, if the judicial officer has properly made a written request to not disclose the personal information.
- Michigan SB 869: A judge may submit a written request, on a form prescribed by the state court administrative office, to a public body or person to prevent disclosure of their home address and other personal information as defined in the bill.
- Mississippi SB 2167: A judge may request from any public body the redaction of personal information defined in the bill.
- Missouri HB 2037: A government agency will not publicly post or display a judicial officer's personal information if the agency receives a written request from the officer to refrain from publishing the information. The written request must specify which information is meant to remain private. Prohibits persons, businesses, and associations from publicly posting or displaying on the internet a judicial officer's personal information as long as the person, business, or association receives a written request to refrain from publishing the information. Creates the offense of knowingly publicly posting on the internet the personal information of a judicial officer or of the officer's immediate family for purposes of tampering with a judicial officer or if the person knows or should know that publicly posting the information would pose an imminent and serious threat to the health and safety of the judicial officer or of the officer's family, and the violation is the proximate cause of bodily injury or death of the officer or a member of the officer's immediate family. This offense is a class D felony.
- Nebraska LB 1178: Now includes judges alongside the existing allowance for law enforcement officers to the list of individuals who may request that their personal residential property records be withheld from online publication by county offices. Members of the public would still be able to access these public records but would need to do so in writing at the county office.
- New Jersey SB 184: Makes publishing on internet home address or unpublished telephone number of judges, prosecutors and certain court personnel a crime of the fourth degree under certain circumstances.
- New Mexico HB 99: Creates new fourth degree felony of threating a judge or an immediate family member. Creates new misdemeanor crime for malicious sharing of personal information of a judge or an immediate family member.
- New York AB 3089: Makes it a Class E felony to disclose or publish the home address or unpublished home telephone number of any active or retired judge or prosecutor with intent to expose the person to harassment or risk of harm to life or property.
- Oklahoma HB 3810: Makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly publish any justice or judge's personal information in any publication, website, or media. Provides all justice and judge personal information shall be confidential and shall not be publicly available on any state or political subdivision publication, website, or media, but instead kept in a secure location where it may be made available to authorized persons pursuant to law or as specifically authorized in writing by the justice or judge. Provides any justice or judge who finds his or her personal information is publicly available may request that the government entity remove the personal information.
- Oklahoma HB 3939: Provides all justices and judges shall be permitted to request to a county assessor that their personal information not be made publicly available on the internet, but instead kept in a secure location at a county assessor's office where it may be made available to authorized persons pursuant to law.
- South Dakota HB 1106: Provides that any personally identifiable information of a circuit court judge or justice of the Supreme Court contained in a statement of financial interest is not open to public inspection. Provides home address information on the voter registration record for a magistrate judge, circuit court judge, or justice of the Supreme Court is not open to public inspection.