Judge Esther Salas is happy to be back on the bench—a joy that is tempered with grief and pain.
“Every day is a struggle,” she concedes, nearly a year after her 20-year-old son was shot dead and her husband seriously wounded in the front doorway of their New Jersey home by an attorney posing as a courier.
“He put together a rather elaborate dossier. He had been stalking my family. He had my routes to work,” Salas says. “He had his plans laid out. But he didn’t plan on my son or my husband being there to stop him.”
In the weeks and months after the deadly incident, though, Salas has been determined not to be consumed by sorrow. Instead, she has refocused her commitment to her U.S. District Court work in New Jersey, while maintaining a rigorous media and public speaking crusade for federal and state versions of Daniel’s Law. Named for her deceased son, Daniel Anderl, the law seeks to severely limit the amount of publicly available personal information on judges and other officers of the court.
The drive for Daniel’s Law comes at a time of escalating verbal and physical threats aimed at federal and state judiciaries—an alarming trend that has Salas joining with colleagues in a push to secure more funding for increased courthouse and guard protection for judges and other officers of the court.
As these efforts for greater protection proceed, bar leaders are also being called on for support, with many speaking out in favor of Daniel’s Law and the increased security measures. Judges and bar leaders say such judicial protection is not only a matter of safety, but also one of safeguarding constitutional principles at a time when they are also increasingly under attack.