BAYONNE, NJ – More than 3,000 threats or inappropriate contacts against judges are made each year, the U.S. Marshal service has said, prompting legislation sponsored by Assembly Nicholas Chiaravalloti to increase penalties on those committing the crime.
“There have been some horrific incidents including one here in New Jersey with Judge Salas,” Chiaravalloti said, referencing an incident in July when the son of Federal Judge Esther Salas was murdered in the family’s North Brunswick home. “We are seeing these threats come more frequently in the age of social media, and we tried to recognize these are real.”
“It’s bad when this happens anywhere, but when it happens in New Jersey, we need to do something,” Chiaravalloti said, noting it is important to protect judges so that they can be allowed to make the best decisions possible, and not live with the fear that they or someone close to them might be harmed.
Judges often have to make difficult decisions which are also unpopular. But they should not live in fear because they are doing what they see as right.Social media has made it possible for people to obtain personal information about judges, and this makes judges vulnerable to harassment.
The bill, which is also sponsored by Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31) and Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-36), would make harassment of a current or former judge a fourth-degree crime. If convicted a person could face up to 18 months in jail and a fine up to $10,000. The bill will allow law enforcement to seek an order of protection if the threat seems credible.
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