In Brief

Attorney general will sit out legal challenge to Daniel’s Law

By: - September 12, 2023 11:20 am

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin will not intervene in a journalist's challenge to Daniel's Law, which shields some public officials' addresses from disclosure. (Dana DiFilippo | New Jersey Monitor)

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin won’t intervene in a journalist’s battle against a state law that bars the disclosure of addresses belonging to judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials.

Platkin in a letter Monday to a Superior Court judge defended Daniel’s Law, the statute that shields those addresses from the public, as a “facially constitutional” effort to protect public officials from harm. But Platkin added that New Brunswick Today Editor Charlie Kratovil’s challenge of the law is “narrowly tailored” and doesn’t seek to have Daniel’s Law invalidated generally.

“The Attorney General has a strong interest in defending Daniel’s Law generally, but lacks relevant first-hand knowledge as to the facts in this case and thus declines to participate at this time,” Platkin wrote.

Kratovil’s challenge of the law has pitted him and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey against the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey, the State Troopers Fraternal Association, and the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police. The law enforcement groups have filed briefs in the case defending Daniel’s Law as necessary to protect public officials.

Daniel’s Law is named after a federal judge’s son, who was gunned down at the judge’s home in 2020.

Kratovil contends local authorities violated free speech protections in the state constitution by threatening him with civil penalties and criminal charges under Daniel’s Law if he publishes the address of the city’s police director, Anthony Caputo.

Kratovil discovered from voter registration records he obtained through a public records request that Caputo, who is also vice chair of the city’s parking authority, lives in Cape May County, more than two hours south of the city.

The ACLU of New Jersey filed the lawsuit on his behalf in July challenging the law as it pertains to his efforts to report on Caputo’s residency. A judge last month declined Kratovil’s request to temporarily block enforcement of the law.

A hearing in the case is set for Sept. 21 in Middlesex County.

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Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.