Monday, March 4, 2002
Bill Authored by Judge to Bar Release of Officials’ Personal Data Introduced
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A bill authored by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Brandlin to protect the home addresses and telephone numbers of judges and public safety officials has been introduced in the Assembly and referred to the Public Safety Committee.
The bill, which is being carried by Assemblyman Dick Dickerson, a Redding Republican, would bar anyone from knowingly posting elected or appointed officials’ personal information on the Internet without permission.
If the proposal is passed into law, violation would be a misdemeanor. If the information leads to bodily injury of the official or his or her spouse or child, it would be a felony.
In addition to judges, the protections would apply to district attorneys, public defenders, city attorneys, gubernatorial appointees, members of city councils and boards of supervisors, mayors, police chiefs and sheriffs, and all state constitutional officers.
Brandlin—a former deputy sheriff and deputy district attorney, and now a judge in the Airport Courthouse—said he authored the bill because he “recognized that there is a huge void in protecting home address information.”
The Legislature has already passed a law to prevent the Department of Motor Vehicles from making such data available, but Brandlin said there are many other places for people who intend harm to public officials to find personal information.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is co-sponsoring the bill.
Sgt. Wayne Bilowit, the Sheriff’s Department legal advocate, said the bill was sparked by the murder in 1999 of Superior Court Commissioner H. George Taylor and a website based in Kirkland, Wash. that lists the home phone numbers and addresses of state troopers and other officials in the state of Washington.
The site’s author “listed all the police officers information on his website, were their kids go to school, where their wives work,” Bilowit said. “This could be really devastating.”
The bill would permit officials to use business addresses as contacts on voter registration and other documents that currently require home data.
Brandlin said the bill will get its primary lobbying support from the law enforcement community.
Superior Court Presiding Judge James Bascue said the court’s judges are “very supportive of the concept.” But he added that judicial support would likely come through the California Judges Association and the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company