Silverstein jud priv 081517SPRINGFIELD – In 2005, the murders of a U.S. District Court Judge and her husband and mother spurred the creation of the Judicial Privacy Act. On Friday, the governor signed legislation sponsored by Senator Ira I. Silverstein to expand the safety and security for judges to include former or deceased judicial officers.

“The legitimate fear of reprisal from people affected by decisions of judges should not influence their ability to administer justice fairly,” Silverstein said. “Keeping their personal information private, including phone numbers, addresses and family details, is a valid concern.”

The Judicial Privacy Act prohibits parties from posting the information publicly if the judicial officer has made a written request to block such action. The business, organization or individual has 72 hours to remove posted information about a judicial officer from the internet after receiving the written request.

Senate Bill 1647 expands coverage of these provisions from active judges only to former or deceased judicial officers.

“There is no reason to put the security of a judicial officer’s survivors at risk after they are gone,” Silverstein said.

The Judicial Privacy Act was enacted in response to the 2005 murders of U.S. District Court Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow's husband and mother. Law enforcement investigating the murders believed them to be retaliation against the Judge for an unfavorable ruling in a medical malpractice suit.  Following the murders, several measures to increase the safety and privacy of federal judges were introduced in Congress, including the Judicial Disclosure Responsibility Act, which President Bush signed into law in 2005 and which allows redaction of certain information in judicial financial disclosure reports.

Judge Lefkow serves as Senior U.S. federal judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. She attended Wheaton College in Illinois as an undergraduate and obtained her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree at Northwestern University School of Law. She returned to the bench after her husband and mother were killed.

The new law takes effect immediately.

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