Following the tragic murder of Washington County Judge Wilkinson, Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair, Senator William Smith, calls for decisive, early action on protecting judges during the upcoming legislative session.
In a recent WTOP article, Democratic Senator William Smith assured reporters that he would bring back a bill to establish protections for judges by shielding the home addresses of the state’s judges from being posted on the internet. The bill in question is SB 221 from the 2023 legislative session, where it passed the originating chamber in the Senate but stalled in the House Judiciary Committee. A previous version of the bill, HB 686, was also introduce in 2021 by Republican Delegate Susan McComas and stalled as well.
With the 2024 session on the horizon, Smith told The Daily Record that the new bill will potentially be the first one his committee, Senate Judicial Proceedings, votes on in the coming session.
From The Daily Record article:
A decision that a judge makes can immediately change someone’s life, and it’s attributable to one person, Smith said. Lawmakers, on the other hand, decide as a body to make decisions and don’t vote on measures that have as direct of an impact.
The General Assembly has considered a number of bills over the last two years related to protecting government officials who are subject to intimidation and threats from members of the public as a result of carrying out their duties. Health officers, election officials, members of the judiciary, school administrators, have all been subject to increases in violence and threats. In 2022, Congress took similar steps by passing legislation allowing federal judges to remove personal information from government internet sites following the murder of a district court judge in New Jersey, whose home address was found on the internet to facilitate the attack. The 2024 legislative session will begin on January 10th where the work of the Judicial Proceedings Committee will get underway.