SBM leader calls for protections for judges

State Bar of Michigan President Daniel D. Quick testified this month before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the proposed Judicial Protection Act (HB 5724), which would extend to Michigan judges some of the protections already provided by federal law to federal judges.

An excerpt from Quick’s testimony:

“Nothing is more core to our justice system than the rule of law. It teaches that all are equal before the law and that law is carried out through the justice system, not on the street. This is a foundational principle of our democracy.

“Our judicial officers may not always get their cases or their decisions right — that’s why we have appeals and elections — but none of them ever deserve to have their life, liberty, or privacy threatened and certainly their direct family members do not deserve to be threatened or harassed.

“One of the core efforts of the Bar is to work on civics and civility throughout our state, from elementary schools to senior centers. We do that, and our oath requires it, because our democracy relies upon the support of our citizens of our judicial system. Too few of those citizens have even a basic knowledge of civics and history. That, in turn, erodes the stability of our system.

“So, this bill is important protection for judges and families, as several judges have testified so eloquently, but it also is a strong modeling for our citizens that, in these times, nonpartisan principles of democracy are greater than any potential political issue.”

HB 5724 permits a judge to request that a public body or private person not publicly disclose personal information about them and about their immediate family.

Personal information would include the judge/family members’ date of birth, address (except city/township), home and cell phone numbers, driver’s license number, social security number, tax ID number, credit card information, bank account information, license plate number and unique vehicle identifiers, school or daycare information, and place of employment (except courthouse).

The Judicial Protection Act is supported by the State Bar of Michigan, State Court Administrative Office, Michigan Judges Association, Michigan District Judges Association, and the Michigan Probate Judges Association.

The hearing also included testimony from:

• U.S. District Judge Esther Salas of New Jersey — Judge Salas’ son, Daniel Anderl, was murdered by a disgruntled litigant who had intended to kill her. He is the namesake of the federal Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act.

• Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Elizabeth Clement

• U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Senior Judge David McKeague

• Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Brock Swartzle, chief judge of the Michigan Court of Claims.

• Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen McCarthy