US judge speaks weeks after attacker kills son at her home

Judge Esther Salas calls for increased privacy for federal judges in an emotional video statement released on Monday.

Law enforcement officials are seen outside the home of federal judge Esther Salas in North Brunswick, New Jersey
Law enforcement officials are seen outside the home of United States federal judge Esther Salas, where her son was shot and killed and her defence attorney husband was critically injured [Eduardo Munoz/Reuters]

A United States federal judge whose son was killed and husband wounded in a shooting by a disgruntled lawyer at her New Jersey home two weeks ago broke her silence on Monday, calling for measures to keep the personal information of jurists private.

“This is a matter of life and death. We cannot just sit back and wait for another tragedy to strike,” US District Court Judge Esther Salas, the first Latina to serve on the District Court of New Jersey, said in a nine-minute video statement.

She noted that her family’s attacker easily found her personal information on the internet. Roy Den Hollander, a lawyer and self-described anti-feminist, went to the judge’s North Brunswick home on July 19, and shot her son Daniel Anderl, 20, and husband Mark Anderl, 63, when they opened the door.

“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,” Salas said.

Salas went on to say the attacker had her family’s personal information, including her home address, and used it to target them. Such easy access to information about judges on the internet must end, she said.

“The monster knew where I lived and what church we attended,” she said. “My son’s death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those empowered to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench.

“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.”

While the motive for the shooting remained unclear, Hollander once had a case before the judge and had published an online screed filled with misogynistic and racist remarks deriding her ethnicity and career. Hollander was found a day after the shooting in an apparent suicide about 145km (90 miles) north of New York City.

Salas, 51, was nominated to her position by President Barack Obama in 2010 and in the following year began serving. She has presided over a number of high-profile cases.

Salas has recently presided over a lawsuit brought by Deutsche Bank investors that accuses the massive bank of making false and misleading statements about anti-money laundering policies.

The lawsuit also alleges Deutsche Bank failed to monitor “high-risk” customers, including convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, whose associate Ghislaine Maxwell is currently in the middle of court proceedings


Salas said that while federal judges understand their rulings may leave people upset, a national dialogue on the issue must commence.

The shooting took place after a weekend in which the family celebrated Salas’s son’s 20th birthday with some of his close friends from Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

Salas, who was in the basement when the shooting occurred, was not hurt. 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies