Recently, Maryland judges have faced an increase in alarming threats and acts of violence. For example, courts around Maryland have reported:

The shocking murder of Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew F. Wilkinson in his driveway last year by a litigant who was unhappy with the outcomes of his child custody case was the tragic culmination of violent rhetoric and behavior toward judges. Judge Wilkinson’s death reverberated through the legal profession, and it became clear action was needed to protect judges and the judicial process, as it is a cornerstone of our democracy.

Shortly after Judge Wilkinson’s killing last October , the Maryland State Bar Association’s board voted to act on improving judicial security and to make it a priority. The association then collaborated with its partners at the Maryland Judiciary to support legislation (HB 664/SB 575) to improve judicial security and the security of all who take part in the judicial process.

The importance of protecting the judicial process was paramount throughout the legislative process, and the State Bar Association applauds the work of both chambers of the Maryland legislature in passing the legislation and sending it to Gov. Wes Moore for his signature. The new law will establish immediate steps to protect members of the judiciary and their families by shielding their personally identifiable information from the internet and creating criminal penalties for those who make that data public, knowing it would lead to harm to a judge or their family member.

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In addition to the immediate protection, the law will establish a task force to further examine and recommend improvements to security for the protection of judges, court personnel, attorneys, litigants and everyone who takes part in the judicial process. The State Bar Association, as the voice of the profession, will have a seat on this task force and will continue to make increased security and protection of our judicial process a key part of its advocacy efforts.

Jason DeLoach, Oxon Hill

Raphael Santini, Baltimore

Jason A. Deloach is president of the Maryland State Bar Associationand Raphael Santini is the association’s president-elect.

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