ASSEMBLY, No. 1424

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2012 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

Assemblyman  REED GUSCIORA

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman Jasey and Assemblyman Chivukula

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Qua-Daishia’s Law: bars disclosure of personal identifying information contained in grand jury materials; creates fourth degree offense for unauthorized disclosure.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning the confidentiality of personal identifying information of witnesses and victims contained in grand jury materials, and designated as Qua-Daishia’s Law, and supplementing Title 2B of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  a.  Personal identifying information of a witness or victim contained in grand jury materials shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except as provided in subsection b. of this section.

     b.  (1)  Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of this section, an attorney for a party in a civil action who has obtained a court order authorizing disclosure of grand jury materials or an attorney for a defendant in a criminal matter arising out of a grand jury proceeding seeking discovery of grand jury materials shall, unless the prosecutor objects, have access to personal identifying information of a witness or victim deemed confidential under subsection a. of this section.  If the prosecutor objects, the personal identifying information of a victim or witness shall not be disclosed except as approved by the court upon a showing of particularized need by the defendant which outweighs the need to maintain the confidentiality of the information.

     (2)  An attorney who, pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection, accesses personal identifying information deemed confidential under subsection a. may disclose that information to persons employed by the attorney or appointed by the court as may be required to assist in the preparation of the defendant’s case; provided, however, that such disclosure shall be limited to only those specific items of personal identifying information actually required for preparation of the case and may be made to only those persons who will use the information for that purpose.  In disclosing such information, the attorney shall inform any recipient that further dissemination of the information is prohibited by law.

     c.  (1)  Where a party in a civil action who has obtained a court order authorizing disclosure of grand jury materials or a defendant in a criminal matter arising out of a grand jury proceeding is self-represented and is seeking discovery of grand jury materials, the prosecutor may deny access to personal identifying deemed confidential under subsection a. of this section.

     (2)  Where the self-represented party or self-represented defendant is aggrieved by a denial or objection of the prosecutor, the party or defendant may seek relief from the court, which may grant the release of the personal identifying information upon a showing of particularized need which outweighs the need to maintain the confidentiality of the information.  The party or defendant shall not disclose the personal identifying information deemed confidential under subsection a. of this section to any third party without the authorization of the prosecutor.

     d.  Any person who, pursuant to subsection b. or c. of this section, has received access to personal identifying information deemed confidential pursuant to subsection a. of this section who purposely, knowingly or recklessly discloses such information in violation of this act is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

     e.  As used in this act:

     (1)  “grand jury materials” means the transcript of the grand jury proceeding and any records presented to the grand jury; and

     (2)  “personal identifying information” means any information other than a name that may be used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to identify a specific individual and includes, but is not limited to, the address, telephone number, date of birth, social security number, official State issued identification number, employer or taxpayer number, place of employment, employee identification number, demand deposit account number, savings account number, credit card number, mother’s maiden name, or unique electronic identification number, address or routing code of  the individual.

 

     2.  This act shall take effect on the first day of the seventh month after enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     The bill makes the personal identifying information of a witness or victim contained in grand jury materials confidential. 

     As used in the bill, “personal identifying information” is defined as any information, other than a name, that may be used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to identify a specific individual and includes, but is not limited to, the address, telephone number, date of birth, social security number, official State issued identification number, employer or taxpayer number, place of employment, employee identification number, demand deposit account number, savings account number, credit card number, mother’s maiden name, or unique electronic identification number, address or routing code of  the individual.  “Grand jury materials” is defined as the transcript of the grand jury proceeding and any records presented to the grand jury.

     The bill provides that personal identifying information of a witness or victim contained in grand jury materials may be accessed as follows:

     Attorneys. An attorney for a party in a civil action who has obtained a court order authorizing disclosure of grand jury materials or an attorney for a defendant in a criminal matter arising out of a grand jury proceeding seeking discovery of grand jury materials shall, unless the prosecutor objects, have access to personal identifying information of a witness or victim deemed confidential under the bill.

     If the prosecutor objects, the personal identifying information of a victim or witness shall not be disclosed except as approved by the court upon a showing of particularized need by the defendant which outweighs the need to maintain the confidentiality of the information.

     Self-Represented Parties and Defendants.  The prosecutor may deny access to confidential information contained in grand jury materials to a party in a civil action who has obtained a court order authorizing disclosure of grand jury materials or a defendant in a criminal matter arising out of a grand jury proceeding who is self-represented and is seeking discovery of grand jury materials.  Where the self-represented party or self-represented defendant is aggrieved by a denial or objection of the prosecutor, the party or defendant may seek relief from the court, which may grant the release of the personal identifying information upon a showing of particularized need which outweighs the need to maintain the confidentiality of the information.

     The bill provides that personal identifying information of a witness or victim contained in grand jury materials, once accessed, may be released as follows:

     Attorneys.  An attorney who accesses confidential personal identifying information may disclose that information to persons employed by the attorney or appointed by the court as may be required to assist in the preparation of the defendant’s case; provided, however, that such disclosure shall be limited to only those specific items of personal identifying information actually required for preparation  of the case and may be made only to those persons who will use the information for that purpose.  In disclosing such information, the attorney shall inform any recipient that further dissemination of the information is prohibited by law.

     Self-Represented Parties and Defendants. The party or defendant shall not disclose the personal identifying information deemed confidential under subsection a. of this section to any third party without the authorization of the prosecutor.

     Any person who receives access pursuant to the provisions of the substitute to confidential personal identifying information who purposely, knowingly or recklessly discloses such information in violation of the provisions of the substitute is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.  Crimes of the fourth degree are punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of $10,000, or both.

     The bill would designate the bill Qua-Daisha’s Law in honor of Qua-Daishia Hopkins who died in a Trenton house fire in May 2008, which the police believe was in retaliation for the testimony of her parents in a federal criminal investigation.