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Federal Judge Demands Better Protections After Gunman Killed Son In Attack At her Home

Judge Esther Salas’ son was killed earlier this year by a gunman who had compiled personal information on her. Now she’s pushing for a federal privacy protection of judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers.

Esther Salas and Daniel Anderl | Newark.rutgers.edu and Facebook / Saint Joseph High School - Metuchen, NJ
Esther Salas and Daniel Anderl | Newark.rutgers.edu and Facebook / Saint Joseph High School - Metuchen, NJ

New Jersey federal judge Esther Salas is calling on lawmakers to enact federal legislation protecting judges’ privacy after a gunman killed her son and injured her husband earlier this year.

Salas’ 20-year-old son Daniel Anderl was shot and killed at her home in July by a gunman posing as a delivery driver. The gunman also fired at her husband, who survived. 

The gunman was self-described "anti-feminist" Manhattan lawyer Roy Den Hollander, who was found dead soon after the shooting with a self-inflicted gunshot wound near Liberty, New York. Hollander had appeared before Salas in 2015 challenging the men-only military draft and had reportedly compiled personal information on her.

In November, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed and authorized  “Daniel’s Law,” a measure that Salas pushed. The law “protects the home addresses and telephone numbers of judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers from public disclosure,” according to the governor’s office. 

“We hope this law can be a [stepping stone] to improving the security of my sisters and brothers who serve as federal judges throughout the country,” Salas said in a statement of the law’s passage. “Nobody should be forced to endure the kind of pain my family has experienced ever again.”

Now, she is hoping that lawmakers pass these protections on a federal level.

“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 Alisyn Camerota 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 continued.

Salas said on CNN that the gunman could access her personal information, and found her home, the church she attended, and her route to work.

“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 said. 

The U.S. Marshals Service has documented 4,449 instances of threats and inappropriate communications against the federal judiciary were made in 2019.

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