Position Statement – 2022
A.07600 and A.03089
Judicial Security in the State of New York
The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”), an organization comprising thousands of attorneys and judges from across the state in private practice, government, academia and the courts, is dedicated to the advancement of women in law and society. WBASNY has reviewed pending legislation relating to the security of the state’s judiciary, court personnel and their families. We believe this legislation will have a significant impact on members of our organization and the independence of the judiciary. Our position in support of each pending piece of legislation is addressed below:
Assembly Bill A07600 (2021-2022) – Relates to increasing the safety and security of court officials and their immediate families.
This bill seeks the increased safety and security of court officials and their immediate families. By amending the Judiciary Law and the Penal Law to provide a means by which the private personal information of judges and others working in or with the courts can be kept from public display and barring the posting, sharing or trading of such information. WBASNY supports this pending legislation as the safety of the judiciary is vital to an independent judiciary, the rule of law, and our democracy. WBASNY fully supports these enhanced measures which will help ensure the protection and safety of all of our judges, court personnel, and their families.
Assembly Bill A03089 (2021-2022) – Prohibits the disclosure and publication of the home address or unpublished home telephone number of any active or retired judge or prosecutor.
This bill seeks to increase the safety and security of any active or retired judge or prosecutor by adding a new section to the Freedom of Information Law (Public Officers Law) exempting the personal information of any active or retired judge from disclosure pursuant to FOIL. It further amends the Penal Law to provide that disclosure of such information with reckless disregard for the probability of harm is a misdemeanor and the release of such information with the intent to expose another to harassment or risk of harm is a felony. Finally, the bill would amend the Civil Rights Law, specifically creating a right to privacy providing that an acting or retired judge or prosecutor has a private right of action against the person disclosing such information. WBASNY supports this pending legislation as the safety of the judiciary is vital to an independent judiciary, the rule of law, and our democracy. WBASNY fully supports these enhanced measures which will help ensure the protection and safety of all of our judges and prosecutors.
While WBASNY supports the foregoing legislation, it further urges State Legislators and the Governor to consider additional reforms which condemn and discourage the public disclosure of judges’ personal addresses and personal contact information.