CHICAGO, Dec. 25 LAWFUEL – Law News, Law Jobs — The desire to protect judges and their families from the wrath of the public outside of the courthouse has led to the publication of a 20-page guide that offers tips on how best to protect
“Protecting Your Personal Privacy,” a collaborative effort of The
Center for Information Technology and Privacy Law at The John Marshall Law
School and the Chicago Bar Association (CBA), is an easy-to-read
informational booklet that has been distributed to all federal judges in
the 7th Circuit, and now is being distributed to other federal circuits as well as state court judges. The booklet has been made available to the
families of judges through the Judicial Family Institute and is also
available to the general public.
“It has been very well received,” said Collins T. Fitzpatrick, circuit executive for the U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit. “It’s a terrific help to anyone who follows it.”
“A series of events, starting with the murders of family members of
U.S. District Court Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow, raised awareness of both
physical and informational security and safety for judges and their
families,” said the booklet’s chief author Leslie Ann Reis, director of the Center for Information Technology and Privacy Law.
The CBA called together members of the federal and state judiciary,
academics and leading practitioners to propose ways judges and their family members could protect their security and safety. “Security for the men and women who serve as state and federal court judges is of paramount importance to America’s justice system,” said Kevin Durkin, president of the CBA.
Committee members initially were “shocked” by the amount of information available on judges and the vulnerabilities created by the misuse of that
information, Reis said. The booklet is meant to empower judges by outlining ways that personal information can be protected from public availability by limiting the amount of one’s personal information that is put into the public domain.
“We found there was no real guidance out there that would allow judges
to proactively protect their privacy,” Reis said. “Our approach (in
developing the booklet) was how to keep the information from getting into
the public domain in the first place, rather than legislating and
criminalizing the disclosure of information.
“Availing yourself to the conveniences of modern-day living involves
giving up a certain amount of privacy. We aren’t telling judges what to do.
What information you share and with whom is a cost benefit analysis that
everyone has to make for themselves,” she noted.
Reis, who has been studying and teaching privacy law the past 10 years,
said the booklet is “helping to raise awareness among the judges of the
potential dangers, and empowering them to make reasoned uses of their
The booklet has suggestions as simple as not providing information for
directories or product rebates, to the more detailed outlines, including
creating land trusts so that personal information is not tied to real
estate transactions in the public record.
“We all know the benefits of technology. What needs to be decided is
how much personal information you’re willing to exchange to gain those
benefits,” Reis said. “If you follow the tips we give, you’ll have the
tools to make a reasoned decision.”