Judge whose son was killed by gunman: ‘Federal judiciary is under attack’

Judge Esther Salas

A New Jersey federal judge whose son was killed and whose husband was critically injured after a gunman opened fire in her home is calling for federal protections for judges’ personal information.

Daniel Anderl, the 20-year-old son of U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas, was shot and killed in the July attack. Salas’s husband, Mark Anderl, was also shot and has since undergone over 10 surgical procedures in his recovery, Salas said Thursday in an appearance on CNN.

Last month, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed “Daniel’s Law,” which “protects the home addresses and telephone numbers of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers from public disclosure,” according to the governor’s office.

Now, Salas is calling on lawmakers to enact federal legislation granting judges greater privacy protections. 

“This is not about trying to restrict type of free speech or anything like this. This is about us trying to just seal that information that is personal in nature and that, quite frankly, can be used for nefarious purposes to hunt us down. And I know that may sound dramatic, but I’m living proof. I had one child, one child, and he has been taken from me,” Salas told CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday.

“My husband of 25 years was almost taken from me. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that these tragedies are going to happen again if we don’t act,” she said.

Authorities identified Roy Den Hollander, who described himself as an “anti-feminist” in writings posted online and accessed via the Internet Archive, as the suspect in the shooting. Den Hollander was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

He previously argued in a lawsuit before Salas that involved the military draft, and he was reportedly upset by what he considered to be her delaying of the case.

Salas said the man found her home using public personally identifiable information and that he also knew the church she attended, her route to work and more. 

“In some ways, you know, some of it’s available, and you are always aware of information that’s out there, but I don’t think I understood the level of information and how someone can use it for nefarious purposes, and that’s why we need to do something now to change that. We need to change the laws and we need to act today, Ms. Camerota, not tomorrow, not next year, today,” she told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Thursday.

“It’s the holidays, and it’ll be the first holiday without my son, and the pain, I can’t even describe it, but it’s the reason that I’m fighting so hard because we need Congress and we need action, and it’s today, not tomorrow that we need it,” she added.

New Jersey Sens. Bob Menendez (D) and Cory Booker (D), as well as New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D), have introduced legislation that would “shield the personally identifiable information of federal judges and their immediate family who share their residence, including home addresses, social security numbers, personal contact information, and other identifying information.”

Data compiled by the U.S. Marshals Service documented 4,449 threats and inappropriate communications against judges in 2019. On average, there are about 1,350 threats or inappropriate communications against judicial members annually.  

Tags Bob Menendez Cory Booker Esther Salas federal judiciary Mikie Sherrill New Jersey Robert Menendez
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