JudicialState SenateTexas Senator Files Bill to Prohibit Disclosure of Judicial Documents, Citing Dobbs Leak

Sen. Joan Huffman wants to ensure that non-public judicial records will not be released without authorization.
January 11, 2023
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The leak of the draft opinion in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson last year set off a firestorm of condemnation and calls for the leaker to be found and held accountable, citing concerns that the release would unduly influence the court.

Fast forward to the present, the Marshal of the Supreme Court has been silent on the status of the investigation into the leak. Concerns are mounting that more needs to be done to protect non-public judicial records from being released without authorization.

Enter Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), who has filed legislation this week to protect the integrity of the judicial process by providing criminal penalties against anyone who releases non-public court documents and records.

If passed, Senate Bill (SB) 372 would create a Class A Criminal Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and confinement for up to one year in a county jail, for the unauthorized disclosure of any non-public judicial work product.

“As both a former prosecutor and criminal district judge, it is appalling to see sensitive judicial materials leak to the public, especially during a trial,” Huffman said.

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Huffman went on to describe how anyone who tries to disrupt judicial proceedings by leaking would face consequences under her legislation.

“Those who seek to disrupt our court’s internal operation and deliberations through leaking judicial work products will be held accountable for their actions once this bill is passed into law,” she said, adding further, “The State of Texas will not tolerate the leaking of judicial work products as they can have very real consequences for all of the parties involved.”

If passed, Huffman’s legislation will become effective on September 1, 2023.

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Matt Stringer

Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy. He graduated from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.