Daniel’s Law, the New Jersey protection for judges born from tragedy
The bill is named for Daniel Anderl, the son of Judge Esther Salas, who was killed in an attack on the family’s home on July 19.
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Back in July, the life of New Jersey federal judge Esther Salas changed forever, as a gunman knocked on the door of her house posing as a FedEx delivery man before shooting both her son and husband when the former answered.
The latter was injured, but her son, Daniel Anderl, was killed just days after his 20th birthday.
Beyond the initial shock of the tragedy, it opened the national discussion to the oft-overlooked issue of the safety of judges outside of the courtroom.
Two weeks after Daniel’s death, Salas broke her silence to further push the issue of more protections for federal judges in her position.
She also acknowledged that judges like her have to make tough decisions sometimes.
“That comes with the territory and we accept that,” said Salas in a taped statement. “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.”
Born from her newfound fight and in memory of her son, Daniel’s Law was born.
The new state legislation, which was signed into law by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Nov. 20, makes it a crime to publish the personal information of all New Jersey judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers.
That information includes both home addresses and phone numbers.
In an appearance on NBC’s “TODAY” following the bill’s passage, Salas said her son would be proud of her pushing for Daniel’s Law because “he always put others before himself.”
“That’s why I know he would want me to do what I’m doing now because he would want others to be protected,” she said.
On the day he and his father were shot, Daniel jumped in front of his dad, Mark. Salas’ husband is still in the hospital recovering from the three gunshot wounds he sustained.
“We are just day by day, taking it second by second,” said Salas.
With the law passed in New Jersey, the first Latina federal judge in the state’s history will now look to push it towards a national adoption alongside enhancements to U.S. Marshal services and security at courthouses.
"These things need to happen, because as I have said over and over again, this is a matter of life or death,” said Salas. “Daniel's death should be a reminder of what will happen if we don't do things and we don't do them immediately."