In July 2020, an assailant intent on assassinating U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas appeared at her home in New Jersey, posing as a delivery person. When her son, Daniel Anderl, answered the door, the gunman opened fire, killing Daniel and severely wounding Salas’s husband. Daniel was their only child, home from college for the summer. He had just celebrated his 20th birthday.
The shooter, who had previously appeared before Salas and described himself as an “antifeminist,” committed suicide shortly after the shooting. Later, in examining the gunman’s belongings, investigators found a list of more than a dozen targets — including three additional jurists.
Propelled by unimaginable loss, Salas undertook the creation of a law that would better protect federal judges and their families. In December 2022, her work culminated in the passage of the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act. Judge Robin L. Rosenberg, a U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of Florida and chair of Judicature’s editorial board, advocated alongside Salas. The two spoke recently about Daniel’s heroism and death, the movement it spawned, and the improved protections the new law affords. Their lightly edited conversation follows.
ROBIN L. ROSENBERG: Let me say what an honor and joy it is for me to conduct this interview. We met about a year ago at the Federal Judges Association’s 10th Quadrennial Conference in Washington, D.C., where you were presenting on the vitally important topic of judicial security and your work on the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act. I was inspired by your passion and courage. We became fast friends, and I am so delighted to share your story with the Judicature readership. Can you take a moment to tell us who you are and give us a little bit of personal insight into the amazing Judge Salas?
ESTHER SALAS: I am the daughter of a Cuban immigrant mother, and my father is from Mexico. More often than not, I think about myself as a little girl from Union City, New Jersey, where I grew up. We were poor but happy. My mother is probably the person I most admire in this world because she really raised us to be good human beings, to be people who realize that we’re not better than anyone, but no one’s better than us. That was really my mother’s mantra.
So I was raised in humble beginnings, but I feel like I am one of the richest people in the world when I think about being the daughter of Aurelia Salas. My mother is the reason I became a lawyer. She is the reason that I continue to work and power through my challenges in life, and I am so very blessed to be her daughter and to be one of five. For me, those humble beginnings really shaped the individual that I became and the mother that I became to Daniel. We are who we are because of the very challenges that we live through, and I certainly have lived through a few challenges in my lifetime.
ROSENBERG: Thank you so much, Esther. We are here today to talk a bit about the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act. Can you tell us about Daniel, and what happened to him and your family on that fateful day in July 2020?
SALAS: Daniel is the only child that my husband, Mark, and I were able to conceive. Daniel is still very much present to me, so I speak about him in the present tense. Mark and I were married in 1995 and tried to grow our family immediately, but we were unable. I suffered four miscarriages, three before Daniel and one after him. So we called Danny our miracle baby, our karma baby. He was all our children rolled into one. We were blessed to have him. He was our universe, and we were his. We were inseparable. We always thought of ourselves as the Three Musketeers.
I wanted to try to make every moment that we had with Daniel a teachable one. I think I did my best job at trying just to be a good role model for my son. I think I did something right, Robin, because I don’t know many 20-year-olds who want to be with their parents on their birthday. Obviously, there was a global pandemic going on in 2020, and he had no choice but to be with us at that time. But I’ll tell you that every birthday, Daniel was with us.
His dream was to bring together his friends and his parents to celebrate his 20th birthday. Daniel was just so excited that his friends were coming to our house for the weekend and that they were going to eat the food that I prepared and would see what Mom and Dad were like at home, and really be part of our moment together.
It was beautiful. His friends started coming over on Friday. The doorbell was ringing. Daniel, if he could jump out of his skin, he would’ve. We had set up a tent in the backyard. We tried to socially distance everybody, but they ultimately wandered closer than I had hoped. But it was just a great Friday night. Everyone slept over. We had air mattresses all over the basement. Then, Saturday morning, some went home and some stayed. A few went ahead to the beach.
I was literally loading the car with lounge chairs and beach umbrellas and the cooler. All the while, this man was watching us down the block, watching our moves. Actually, at one point in the morning, I walked the dogs down the block and I locked eyes with the man who would eventually kill my son. I still think about that moment where we locked eyes because, at that very second, he and I connected, and I’ll never forget that look.
Daniel went off that day to the beach and I went to the supermarket and prepared his favorite meal, a ribeye steak, and I made all the things that made him happy. I can still hear the laughter and the conversation from the basement as they ate the meal that I had prepared all day.
It was one of the best moments of my life. Daniel just lived for every moment and, on Sunday morning, he was so excited that I was going to make his friends my huevos rancheros, which he loved. Some of his friends, though, couldn’t stay. One had a five-hour drive back home. I remember Daniel coming into the bedroom and saying, “Mom, why’d they have to leave?” And I said, “Daniel, do you realize that your friends drove from Rhode Island and upstate New York? They all came to be with you, and you have had the best two days and you have got to be happy for that.” I remember him putting his hands behind his head and looking up at the ceiling, because he was lying in the bed with me at that time. Mark had gotten up to go make coffee.
Daniel said, “You’re right, Mom. I’ve had the best birthday ever,” and I said, “Do you realize how fortunate you are to have that?” And he did, and he thanked me and his dad and he went off to get some rest. Later, Mark and I went off to church, and we gave Daniel a pass on his usher duties.
When we came back home, Daniel was still resting, but at some point, it was time to start cleaning up. We were in the basement, and Daniel was telling me about his hopes and dreams. Daniel’s dad was his bro; I was his confidant. Mark came downstairs, and Daniel said, “Hey, Dad, Mom and I are talking now.” That was a cue for Mark to excuse himself. Daniel was swinging, at that point, a Wiffle baseball bat.
I remember him saying, “Mom, keep talking to me. I love talking to you.” And it was at that exact moment that the doorbell rang and Daniel just bolted up those stairs. I stayed downstairs cleaning and I just heard what sounded like mini-bombs going off. I screamed, “What’s happening?” I remember just running up those stairs and I didn’t know what I was going to see, but I wasn’t prepared for it. There was Daniel lying perpendicular to the front door and Mark was crawling by the porch, trying desperately to get a glimpse of that license plate.
I often use a line from a movie, Steel Magnolias. Sally Field says she was there when that beautiful baby was born, and she was there when her daughter left. Well, that’s how I feel — blessed that I was there when Daniel was born and blessed that I was there when he left this earth.
That was the start of a journey that led us to December 23rd of 2022, when President Biden signed into law the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act.
ROSENBERG: First of all, I want to say that, in every conversation I’ve had — most recently at the Judicial Conference meeting in Washington, D.C. — about the Daniel Anderl bill, it has been lauded, including by the director of the Administrative Office of the Courts [AO] and by the chair of the Judicial Security Committee. This was a prominent part of this recent meeting because the bill was looked upon as a tremendous success for the judiciary. Because of your efforts, Daniel is known and referred to among the entire judiciary and beyond as a hero. He was a victim that day, but he was also a hero. His actions in, as I understand it, Esther, stepping between the shooter and your husband, Mark, who survived this terrible tragedy, were due to Daniel’s courage and heroism in protecting his mom and his dad.
That’s how we as judges look upon Daniel Anderl, and that’s how he will always be remembered — particularly by those who never had the good fortune of knowing the kind, compassionate, smiling, intelligent, handsome human being that we know he was. But his actions speak so loudly of his character and courage.
How is it that you have turned this tragedy into a journey to get this law passed? You’ve told me that, in this moment of despair, you and Mark were immediately transformed into wanting to make sure that something like this never happened to another judge again. Where did this strength come from and how did you navigate this journey?
SALAS: Well, I first want to thank you for those words, Robin. I do believe, after two FBI debriefings, after talking to Mark, after understanding the placement of where Mark was and where Daniel was, there is no doubt in my mind that my son consciously gave his life as an act of love for his father and me. In fact, the way he fell back with his arms in a cross position and hit the ground, as Mark remembers, was an example of him not allowing the shooter to come even into our foyer. He didn’t step one foot into our foyer because Daniel blocked him. The way that Mark was shot is indicative of the way the bullets were going. Mark was trying to get to the guy. And so that’s where he was shot, on his right side and on the left side of his body. So thank you. That is what Daniel is and remains: a hero.
He not only saved our lives, but he has and will continue to save countless lives by his act of heroism and, really, his act of love. I want to be very clear, because I think a lot of people might think that immediately after the murder I started this journey. It was not like that at all. I wanted to die. I will tell you honestly, if there was a hole in the ground that Sunday, I would’ve jumped into it willingly. The depths of my despair are really unimaginable. I went into a catatonic state and remained that way for days. It wasn’t until several days after the killing that I recall almost a light switch being turned back on. I can recall sitting up in my hospital bed. I had fainted on Sunday and had to be admitted into the hospital where I remained until the Friday after the murder. I sat up in the bed and a team of doctors was telling me that Mark wasn’t doing so great.
I remember asking for a pen and a pad of paper, and there began the awakening, my awakening, in so many ways. I was discharged from the hospital that Friday, and I began to feel like something needed to be said, something needed to be done. What a lot of people might not know — and I think is important to put into perspective when we talk about the journey that Mark and I were on for the two years, five months, and four days until the bill became law — the journey at that moment started with a YouTube video that I filmed on Friday, July 31, 2020. That YouTube video was a first take, which I again have a deeper and spiritual thought about that. But I had to go to the hospital and have a meeting with a couple of the doctors because, again, Mark was still in the ICU fighting for his life.
Then I had to go and temporarily lay to rest my son the very day I recorded that YouTube video. The same suit that I’m wearing in the video, I wore that afternoon at the mausoleum. So you have a sense of the momentum and what I felt had to be done. You know I’m a very faithful and spiritual human being. But the journey that we started that day, I had no idea what awaited me and Mark. But I tell you what I did know. I was going to fight like heck to do what I thought was the right thing because I know that that is what Daniel would’ve wanted me to do. That is really what has propelled me forward during every high and low that we had to face when it came to the legislation — and you know very well because you were on this journey with me. I figured that if I could do what I did on July 31st, I could do anything thereafter.
ROSENBERG: The law, as you said, was passed in December 2022, and I know there were many stops and starts, many moments of elation and discouragement — often within minutes of each other. What was the political process like for you? Because that’s really a whole different animal than what we as judges are used to in our branch of government. Who helped you along the way as you navigated this?
SALAS: We start with God and Daniel, and we work our way down. So many vital key people along the way stepped up just at the right moment. Obviously, we start with our home state senators, Senator [Bob] Menendez and Senator [Cory] Booker. We also have to start with Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill and Congressman [Brian] Fitzpatrick. Those were the bill’s original sponsors, both the Senate bill and the House bill. Along the way, we saw a number of congressional leaders, members of Congress from the right and left and everything in between, step forward to support the bill.
And then, of course, we saw so many organizations. We saw the Federal Judges Association, Federal Bar Association, Federal Magistrate Judges Association, National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, and let’s not forget the Administrative Office of the Courts and their team. There were just so many people who played a vital role, too many for me to name, too many organizations. When it came to this bill, something happened — an energy, an urgency, if you will, and also something even more than that, a feeling that people got because of, obviously, Daniel, and because of what had happened and what was threatening to again occur if we didn’t do something to protect democracy. So it was a cause much bigger than all of us, and you felt it. It was electric.
ROSENBERG: Beyond electric. It was powerful. It was unifying. I saw people put aside personal commitments, ideologies, and philosophies to devote energy and resources to support this cause. It was truly a bipartisan effort politically — but, even more so, within the judiciary, we all get cabined in our districts, in our courthouses, in our committees, in our worlds with our cases. We don’t have occasion often to come together as friends, as persons who work together for something bigger than ourselves, and you drew upon the entire judiciary. I befriended people, and I’m sure you did, that I may never have had the occasion to befriend, never had been willing to pick up a phone to call first thing in the morning when there was a crisis and you needed a press release approved and we needed an answer from somebody in legislative affairs.
We just abandoned all, I don’t want to say protocol, because we were always very respectful, but we didn’t know any limitations. You taught us, Esther, that there were no boundaries. Nothing was going to get in the way of something so monumentally important to all of us, to our democracy, to our livelihood, safety, and security. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I suspect every judge and every person who helped you along the way felt the same way. So it was a very unique, heartwarming, and meaningful past year for me to be alongside you in this journey.
SALAS: I thank you and numerous judges who really put aside even their fears because, let’s be honest, this is not our lane. We have been taught that we have our lane. We don’t drift into any of the other two lanes. We stay committed to doing our jobs. Whenever there’s been a request for a comment, we’re all taught to say, “no comment,” and then all of a sudden, we had to go out and do something that was somewhat uncomfortable at times because it’s obviously not something we’re accustomed to do. But we did it. And we did it in a way that stayed within ethical boundaries. We were very cognizant of our roles and limitations, but we also were united in the need to get these protections that clearly are narrowly tailored to address this compelling government interest.
Judges need to be able to do their job without fear of retribution, retaliation, or death. This country doesn’t work if we don’t have that independence, and we knew that we had to make that a priority and that we had to work together. So all of the judges came forward and did what they needed to do. The organizations, the bar associations, and our political leaders began to realize the urgency. Sadly, what helped was that the threats kept coming. Even after Daniel’s murder on a Sunday afternoon in broad daylight, when a lawyer came to our house and rang our doorbell with the intention to assassinate me, even after that bold, tragic event, we saw things like Justice [Brett] Kavanaugh’s life being threatened. How? By someone getting his information off the internet. Then within days of that Justice Kavanaugh scare, what did we see? We saw the sad news that retired Judge [John] Roemer from Wisconsin was assassinated in his home by someone he had sentenced 15 years earlier.
We continued to see the number of inappropriate threats to judges rise, and, then of course, sadly, we saw a United States magistrate judge in your district face death threats for making a decision in a case involving our former President. So in addition to the collaboration, the communication, and the unity that we all felt, we saw that the threat remained a clear and present danger. And that, I think, helped propel the bill forward to the President’s desk. We saw that this isn’t going to stop, but we needed to try to do whatever we can do to save lives. The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Law will save lives by at least making it harder for those people who want to harm us to find us.
ROSENBERG: That’s a perfect segue into the bill itself. Can you share with us some of the highlights of what the bill will accomplish for the security of federal judges?
SALAS: It limits the availability of federal judges’ PII — personally identifiable information — in federal databases, and it restricts data aggregators from reselling that information. It also allows judges to obtain redactions of personal information by businesses and individuals where there’s no legitimate media interest or matter of public concern to justify the publication of such information. It establishes a vulnerability management program within the AO, which approves the judiciary’s ability to monitor and react to internet threats and provides enhanced training for judges in security best practices.
It provides for redress, injunctive and declaratory relief and penalties, fines, damages, court costs, and attorney’s fees to enforce provisions of the act. It strengthens the capabilities of the United States Marshals Service to anticipate and deter threats to the federal judiciary. It authorizes, and I think this is a big point, a state grant program to incentivize states to establish or expand programs to protect and prevent disclosure of judges’ PII. These are definite steps in the right direction, and I’m going to continue to urge the Administrative Office of the Courts to make sure that judges are aware of what’s available to them and what they need to be doing to ensure that they and their family members and personnel are safe.
ROSENBERG: The law was passed in the U.S. Congress, and it’s directed to the protection of the safety and privacy of federal judges. But there’s also a bill, Daniel’s Law, that was passed in New Jersey. Do you think that there’s an appetite to adopt similar measures in other states to protect state judges? As a former state judge, and I know you and I have spoken about this — they’re on the front lines as well. In some ways, even more so. Their caseloads are higher. The types of cases that they preside over are of a very serious and consequential nature. Do you agree that these kinds of protections should be afforded to state judges as well? And what do you think the prospects are of taking something like Daniel’s Law and making that more universal throughout other states?
SALAS: I sure hope so. As you just said, state judges face the same threats that federal judges face, and we have to be very cognizant that U.S. marshals have been tracking inappropriate threats to judges for a very long time. That’s how we knew that the number of threats skyrocketed from 2015, when there were 926 threats, to well over 4,000 in 2021. So there was a centralized way of monitoring that information. There is no centralized data bank, that I know of, to monitor the actual threats that state and municipal judges are receiving throughout this country. Surveys have asked judges about their security and how they feel, and there will be a survey coming out of the National Judicial College that shows that well over 90 percent of judges don’t feel safe right now.
So I believe Daniel’s Law should serve as a template for states to enact measures to protect state court judges. I think it’s vital. We need to continue to talk about these issues, which is one of the reasons I wanted to sit for this interview. I wanted to keep judicial security at the forefront of our discussions because it is, in my opinion, one of the most critical issues that needs to be addressed moving forward if we’re going to protect the Constitution and our democracy in this country. I do believe it’s that big of a deal.
State court judges ought to get the support they need, and the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Law now has this grant that incentivizes states to do so. I know the Administrative Office will do what they can and have provided information for state legislatures throughout the country. This is a vital issue for judges at every level — municipal, state, federal, tax, you name it. Judges face a threat more often than not because we make tough calls that leave people angry. We are willing to make these tough calls. But we ask that we not be literally gunned down in our homes for making those tough calls.
ROSENBERG: You’ve spoken a lot to me about your commitment and passion for the idea of women helping women, and that plays into this. And one might ask, “Why and how?” I know from what you’ve told me that the gunman who murdered Daniel was a self-described antifeminist and had made disparaging comments about you based on your gender and race. How has that affected you? How has that affected, to your knowledge, your female colleagues and colleagues of color? And how has this played into your theme of women helping women?
SALAS: As you said, this man hated me because I’m a woman and a Latina. I think it was a huge wake-up call for all of us about where we still need to go when it comes to racism and sexism in this country. We have definitely taken many steps forward, but we still have a lot of miles to cover, and I think women need to be inspiring to other women. We need to lift each other up. We need to promote each other. We need to be positive toward one another, and we need to be that source of support when we need someone to lean on.
There are institutions and organizations that are set to do that. But that’s something that I’m also so passionate about — making the fact that we’re women and whatever nationality we happen to be irrelevant. What we should, as judges, be thinking about is our decisions. It should just be an everyday occurrence to see a woman, a Latina, or an African American sitting on the bench.
I think we are at an all-time high in terms of women serving on the federal bench in New Jersey. And we also have seen many strides in diversity by having people like Zahid Quraishi, who was just named and appointed in June 2021, as our first Muslim American to serve as an Article III judge. We’re beginning to see the bench really mirror the community it serves, and I think that’s going to help when we talk about overcoming some of the biases that have existed for a very long time in this country.
ROSENBERG: I know a number of scholarships have been created in Daniel’s name. Can you tell us about some of them and how people can support them?
SALAS: After I was discharged from the hospital on the Friday after the murder, I had to stay in a hotel close to the hospital because Mark was still in intensive care. I remember one night having this vivid dream. Daniel was in it, and he was wearing his Catholic University of America sweatshirt. It was gray and it had these black letters on it. It was his favorite sweatshirt. I actually buried him with it. And in the dream, he was saying, “Mama, I want to still be able to help my friends.” I said to him in the dream, “But, Daniel, honey, you don’t have a body. How are you going to help your friends?” And he said, “I don’t know, but I still want to help my friends.”
The whole dream was us trying to figure out how Daniel was going to help his friends, and the next day or the day after that, I remember my sister-in-law coming up to me and saying, “Esther, do you have a moment? I want to share something with you.” So we go into the conference room and she takes out a letter and says, “This is a letter from Catholic University and there’s a couple in Texas,” a couple we did not know, “who saw what happened, and they want to donate a sizable amount of money to start a scholarship in Daniel’s name.” So it happened very naturally and beautifully, and I always like to say, “in a divine way.” Catholic University was able to create a fully endowed scholarship in Daniel’s honor. That was followed by Rutgers Law School, which also created a fully endowed law scholarship in Daniel’s name; then Daniel’s high school, Saint Joseph High School in Metuchen, New Jersey, created a fully endowed scholarship; and then, of course, Daniel’s grammar school, St. Augustine of Canterbury in Kendall Park, New Jersey, created a scholarship. So those are four fully endowed scholarships. And I just found out about, and it’s exciting to share with you, two more fully endowed scholarships.
So we literally have seen, out of this horrific tragedy, the birth of some beautiful light and love and some wonderful things that are happening for young men and women all over this country who are going to be able to go to school and have financial assistance — and all because of a dream in my mind of my son saying, “I still want to help my friends.” I love to think that, out of this nightmare, comes a beautiful dream.
ROSENBERG: That’s beautiful. Esther, is there anything that I haven’t covered that you want to share with us?
SALAS: One of the things that I really hope is clear in terms of judges and our decisions is always making sure that there is complete transparency and accountability — I don’t think that’s ever been an issue for a judge. When we’re talking about the Daniel Anderl law, we still want our rulings, decisions, and opinions to be accessible and available to all. We still expect that when we get something wrong, we’re going to be appealed. We still think people have a right to voice their objections to our opinions and, when necessary, if they feel a need to publicly protest a decision, that should be available to folks at the courthouse. What I think you and I and other judges who have experienced threats want is to be able to get home — and to know that we are safe and secure in our sanctuaries, in the place that we call the most private place of all, our home.
Numerous concerns have been expressed along the way, but this law is narrowly tailored. We’ve had constitutional scholars like Professor Laurence Tribe, who looked at the law independently, reviewed it, considered it, supported it, and realized that it was a need — that this country’s in need of these types of laws that will protect judges and our democracy. I’m just so grateful, Robin, to people like Professor Tribe who came out in support at a critical point in time. I’m just so grateful to everyone. I look at you and I look at your beautiful face and I say, “Thank God that I’ve had the great fortune to meet you and to now call you my friend.” You and Judge [Beth] Bloom and so many people, Diane Blankman, so many people that I don’t want to start naming because I think this would go on forever.
I think it’s critical for us to acknowledge all the hard work, effort, time and just the commitment by so many people and organizations and groups to get this past the finish line. I know I speak for Mark when I say we are eternally grateful for everyone’s hard work and effort in this endeavor. And I know that I speak for Daniel when I say that, by the passage of this legislation, we ensured that his death would not be in vain. And I am just so grateful to have friends all across this country and world that have lent their support either by a thought, a prayer, or an act of love on their own end. And I’m just in awe of humanity.
I kept a journal from the moment Daniel was 6 months old to the moment he passed. And in the last entry before he was murdered, I questioned my faith in humanity. I really did. There was a lot of ugliness at the time. We were seeing what can happen when people lose hope and faith, and I just didn’t know how to write to my son and continue to tell him to have faith. I can now honestly say to you, as I sit here today for this interview, that my faith in humanity has been restored. And it is because of people like you, who got behind this bill and who wrote me hundreds and hundreds of letters offering their love and support. And it is just the beauty that we have seen throughout this journey of ours that has renewed my faith in humanity. I’m just in awe.
ROSENBERG: I can’t think of a better way to end this interview other than to say, Esther, we all are in awe of you. I think I can fairly say I speak on behalf of the judiciary and, although I know that sounds very presumptuous, I can’t imagine anyone would take issue with the statement that we are in awe of you, of your family, of Mark, of Daniel. For as many hours as we’ve clocked and as much emotion and time that we’ve put in, it pales in comparison to what you’ve done 24/7 for the past two years and longer. And when we saw you act, we wanted to act. This was an act of unity. It was an act of love. It was an act of courage and dedication to you. And thank you and thank your family and thank Daniel for affording the entire judiciary the protection that it now has, the lives that it will save, the safety that it will ensure for all of us. We owe you a tremendous amount of debt. So thank you.
SALAS: Thank you, my friend.
ROSENBERG: I suspect that a lot of Judicature’s readership, which is primarily judges, will read this interview and be so moved by your story that they’ll want to do something. What can they do to help further this cause or to contribute in some way?
SALAS: I think that it’s important for judges to continue to support the Administrative Office in their initiatives. Oftentimes, we get so busy, as you were saying, in our cases, in our docket, in our lives, and then they’re asked to do things like filling out security forms or signing up for DeleteMe or making sure that they are cooperating with whatever initiatives may be rolling out from the AO in terms of judicial security. I’m going to ask my brothers and sisters on the bench to remember Daniel, to remember what can happen, to never let his beautiful face fade away in their memories. And they have to be willing to do the monotonous paperwork that needs to be done to ensure that they are safe to solidify the precautions that are being made by the United States Marshals Service. Judges have to do their part to make sure that they’re signing up for these home-intrusion-detection systems, and be willing to go through the trouble of having a whole new system if that’s what needs to be done.
I’ve heard some judges complain about various initiatives that are cumbersome or that are taking too much time or that are confusing. And all I ask them to do is to think about Daniel, to think about what can happen if they don’t do what they need to do to ensure that they are protected. And if they do that, I would be eternally grateful to them, because I feel like the last thing I ever want to see happen to any judge is to experience what has happened to me, to live my life and what I’ve lived these last two-and-a-half years. It hasn’t been easy. It’s something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy — not that I have any anymore. But I really do think that judges need to do their part. Whatever it takes, they need to do their part. Period. End of story.
What I really do want as we move forward is just to continue to speak about the threats, to talk about the dangers, to talk about the solutions, and to work together. If we can continue to work together the way that we have worked together these past two-and-a-half years, I have so much hope for this country, so much hope for the judiciary, so much hope for all of us. We’ve just shown that, together, we can do such amazing things, even in the face of evil, even in the face of what appears sometimes like insurmountable challenges. We can make this happen. We can make things happen when we work together.
Robin L. Rosenberg was appointed by President Barack Obama, unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, and sworn in as a United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of Florida on July 25, 2014. She serves as chair of the Judicial Conference Advisory Rules Committee.
Esther Salas became the first Latina United States district judge in the District of New Jersey after unanimous confirmation in 2011. She had served as magistrate judge for the same district from 2006 to 2011 and in the district’s Office of the Federal Public Defender from 1997 to 2006. She is the loving wife of Mark Anderl and the proud mother of her late son, Daniel Mark Anderl, who offered his life as an act of love when a disgruntled lawyer targeted Judge Salas because of her federal judgeship. Since Daniel’s senseless murder, Judge Salas’s mission is to ensure greater protections for judges. Her tireless advocacy led to the passage of “Daniel’s Law” in New Jersey and to President Biden signing the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act into law on Dec. 23, 2022.
States move to protect judges, court staff with new legislation
Several states have initiated laws designed to protect judges and court staff, with 11 pieces of legislation across nine states enacted in 2023. The laws vary in terms of who is covered, what personally identifiable information is protected, and which civil remedies and criminal charges can result when information is unlawfully published.
For example, Florida has two new laws: SB 50 of 2023 expands an existing statute by adding current and former judicial assistants and their spouses and children to an exemption from public records requirements. HB 67 creates a new first-degree misdemeanor offense for a person who knowingly and willfully harasses with the intent to intimidate or coerce a judge, a justice, a judicial assistant, a clerk of court, clerk personnel, or specified officials to perform or refrain from performing a lawful duty. HB 67 also adds those same individuals to the list of persons protected from threats of serious bodily harm or death under other existing laws.
Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia are among the other states that have enacted new judicial security legislation. A complete list can be found on the National Center for State Courts website (www.ncsc.org/gaveltogavel).
— WILLIAM RAFTERY