"Daniel's Law" Amends OPRA to Protect Judges

On Nov. 20, 2020, Governor Murphy signed A-1649 into law. Among other things, the bill amends OPRA to render certain home addresses exempt from public access.

Specifically, the new law immediately exempts from access "that portion of any document which discloses the home address, whether a primary or secondary residence, of any active, formerly active, or retired judicial officer or prosecutor."  A "judicial officer" is defined as an "active, formerly active, or retired federal, state, county, or municipal judge, including a judge of the Tax Court and any other court of limited jurisdiction established, altered, or abolished by law, a judge of the Office of Administrative Law, a judge of the Division of Workers' Compensation, or a and any other judge of any other court or who handles proceedings established by law who serves in the executive branch."

It also creates a future exemption that goes into effect in May 2022 (i.e. 18 months after the bill was signed into law). That provision exempts "that portion of any document which discloses the home address, whether a primary or secondary residence" of "any active, formerly active, or retired law enforcement officer."

This legislation, called "Daniel's Law," was passed in response to the horrific attack upon U.S. District Judge Esther Salas that tragically resulted in the death of her son, Daniel. In addition to exempting home address information from OPRA, the new law also makes it a crime to knowingly post, re-post, or publish the home addresses or unlisted phone numbers of judges, prosecutors or law enforcement officers and their families with the purpose to expose them to "harassment or risk of harm to life or property, or in reckless disregard of the probability of such exposure."

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