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NJ judge calls for better protections for federal judges, after attack on her family

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Judge Esther Salas

New Jersey Judge Esther Salas is calling for better protection of federal judges, issuing an emotional video Sunday discussing the shooting that killed her son and injured her husband. 

“While my husband is still in the hospital recovering from multiple surgeries, we are living every parent’s worst nightmare — making preparations to bury our only child, Daniel,” Salas said in the video. “My family has experienced a pain that no one should ever have to endure, and I am here asking everyone to help me ensure that no one ever has to experience this kind of pain. We may not be able to stop something like this from happening again, but we can make it hard for those who target us to track us down.”

Salas’s 20-year-old son, David Anderl, was fatally shot at the family home in July. Salas’s husband, Mark Anderl, was shot and wounded. Police said the suspected shooter, Roy Den Hollander, a lawyer and self-described “anti-feminist,” was found dead with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in Rockland, N.Y.

Salas said the shooting that killed her son occurred after the family celebrated Daniel Anderl’s 20th birthday with a celebration with some of his friends at their home. She said right before he was shot, she spoke to Anderl in the basement as they sought to clean up from the weekend festivities. 

“Daniel said, ‘Mom, let’s keep talking. I love talking to you, mom,’ and it was that exact moment that the doorbell rang and Daniel looked at me and said, ‘who is that?’ And before I could say a word he sprinted upstairs. Within seconds I heard the sound of bullets and someone screaming ‘no,’” Salas said in the video.

She said she later learned her son protected his father as the shooter’s first bullet hit Daniel Anderl’s chest. She said her husband was shot three times, with one bullet entering his right chest, another in his left abdomen and the last in his right forearm. 

Salas is urging action to help better protect federal judges and their families to prevent further killings. 

“As federal judges we understand that our decisions will be scrutinized and some may disagree strongly with our rulings. We know that our job requires us to make tough calls, and sometimes those calls can leave people angry and upset. That comes with the territory and we accept that,” she said. “But what we cannot accept is when we are forced to live in fear for our lives because personal information like our home addresses can easily be obtained by anyone seeking to do us or our families harm.”

Salas said the alleged shooter who killed her son had access to all her personal information, including a “complete dossier” on her family that listed their address and what church they attended. 

“My son’s death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench. Now more than ever we need to identify a solution that keeps the lives of federal judges private,” she said. “I know this is a complicated issue and I don’t pretend to know or have all the answers, but together we can find a way. Let’s commence a national dialogue, let’s work collaboratively to find a solution that will safeguard the privacy of federal judges. Let me be clear and tell you firsthand: This is a matter of life and death and we can’t just sit back and wait for another tragedy to strike.”

Data compiled by the U.S. Marshals Service documented 4,449 threats and inappropriate communications against judges in 2019. The number of threats for 2019 is higher than the annual average recorded by the service. On average, there are about 1,350 threats or inappropriate communications against judicial members logged each year, according to the Marshals Service. 

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