There is a Northampton county judge whose home, when searched on ncpub.org (assessment records), comes up as "Unknown Owner." I can certainly understand the judge's concerns for privacy in the event of a hostile losing litigant, etc. He also has the house's image blurred out on Google Earth, but anyone can have Google do that for them easily.He later added this:
I work in a position in the private sector where I am frequently threatened with violence from angry members of the public. I have had a gun pulled on me. God forbid one of them decides to meet me at my house one night. Why can't my house be listed as "Unknown Owner"? I've never seen any home listed like that other than this judge's.
County policy or handshake deal with the assessment folks?
I am the one who posted the comment about the judge's house. In case anyone wants to blur their home in Google Earth street view, it's easy:At one time, the public was able to search ncpub.org by a person's last name. That policy was changed after I complained about the loss of privacy and the very real possibility that the information could be used for data-mining or to present a real risk to personal security. You can still search assessment records by last name, but to do so, you have to visit the courthouse in Easton.
1. Open Google Earth, type in your address, and go to street view.
2. Click "Report a Problem" in the lower right corner of the image.
3. Follow the steps that appear on the screen from there.
4. If you have an alleyway to the rear of your home, make sure you repeat the process for that angle.
I'll add that when I called the assessment folks about having my house's record changed to unknown owner, they first claimed to have no idea what I was talking about, then they said it just was not possible.
Using that system yesterday, I was able to determine the residential address of every Northampton County Common Pleas judge as well as every magisterial District Judge. I also obtained the home addresses of several assistant District Attorneys, the District Attorney and Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio.
With that information, I returned to ncpub.org. To be clear, this is an online version of the County's assessment records, but is not the official version. Using that system, I saw that when I typed in a judge's home address, the answer I received was "Unknown owner." But when I typed in a prosecutor's or a police officer's address, their names appeared.
I also checked Google maps, and no judge has blurred his or her home address that I could see.
County officials inform me that the judges' names have been removed from this online system at the request of the Courts. When he was Executive, John Stoffa agreed to remove their names, but also decided that no one else would be given that privilege.
Those of you who know me know I am a John Stoffa fan. But I consider this a mistake. Just as the judges have had their names purged from the system for obvious personal security reasons, any property owner should have the right to make that request. There should be no need to demonstrate a need. The right to know has a concomitant right to privacy.
In Europe, the right to privacy is protected much more than in this country. U.S. privacy rights are much more limited.