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Daniel’s Law

The Applicability of Daniel's Law to New Jersey Public Libraries

WEINER LAWDaniel’s Law
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In November 2020, Governor Murphy signed Daniel’s Law, which amended the
Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and other statutes protecting personal
information for certain persons in public service. Specifically, Daniel’s Law is
designed to expand protections from public exposure for personal information
about active and retired judges, law enforcement officers, and prosecutors, and
their immediate family members.


For purposes of Daniel’s Law, the following definitions apply:


• “personal information” includes home address (primary and
secondary residences), Social Security number, credit card number, unlisted
telephone numbers, and driver’s license number. Although not expressly
stated in the law, cell phone numbers generally would be considered to be
unlisted because there is not a published directory of cell phone numbers
like there is for residential home phone numbers.


• “judge” includes all federal, state, county and municipal judges
serving in any court or administrative agency, including, for example, the
Office of Administrative Law, Workers’ Compensation Court, and other
administrative judges.


• “immediate family member” includes a spouse, child or parent of a
covered individual, and any blood relative a covered individual or of a
covered individual’s spouse, who lives in the same residence as the covered
individual. Although not expressly stated in the law, spouse should be
interpreted to include legally established civil union partners and domestic
partners.


• “law enforcement officer” is not defined within Daniel’s Law, but in
numerous other N.J. statutes, is defined to mean a person whose public
duties include the power to act as an officer for the detection, apprehension,
arrest, and conviction of offenders against the laws of this State. Based on
this definition, law enforcement officer would include police officers of any
rank, constables, sheriff’s officers, State troopers, FBI agents, and similar
positions.
Because
the law amends OPRA, libraries must ensure that before disclosing any
government records in response to an OPRA request, the documents are screened
to ensure that any personal information is redacted. This means that libraries
should survey their staff, including all employees and volunteers, to determine if
any of them personally, or if any of their immediate family members (as defined
above) is an active or retired judge, law enforcement officer or prosecutor, and the
library should keep a record of the staff members with this affiliation. Then, prior
to making any public disclosure of any government record in response to an OPRA
request, the requested records must be reviewed to ensure that if any those “staff”
members are referenced, no personal information is included in, or any included is
redacted from, the records.


In addition to library staff, these restrictions also would apply to any Library user,
who is an active or retired judge, law enforcement officer or prosecutor, and to the
immediate family members of those users. Fortunately, as long as a library
remains compliant with the statutory requirements for maintaining the
confidentiality of library records with regard to information about library users, the
library would not need to take any further precautions to avoid being at risk for
violating Daniel’s Law with regard to library users.


In addition to OPRA requests, these same restrictions prohibit the posting such
personal information on the Internet. The law further provides that any active or
retired judges, law enforcement officers and prosecutors, who learn that their
personal information is available on the Internet, may provide written notice to the
party which posted it, or which is responsible for the site on which the information
appears, and request that the personal information be removed from the site. Any
party receiving such notice, must comply within 72 hours or risk criminal and civil
liability.


If you have any questions about Daniels Law and its applicability to your library, or about
any other aspect of library law, please contact Douglas S. Zucker, Esq. at
[email protected], office 9734031100, or cell 9739197259.

Douglas S. Zucker

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