Judge Esther Salas, whose 20-year-old son was killed and husband was injured by a gunman at their home in New Jersey last month, called for greater privacy protections for federal judges in her first statement since the shooting.
“Two weeks ago, my life as I knew it changed in an instant, and my family will never be the same,” Salas said in a video statement released Monday, August 3rd. “A madman, who I believe was targeting me because of my position as a federal judge, came to my house.”
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The gunman is believed to have been Roy Den Hollander, a lawyer and men’s rights activist, who later killed himself in Liberty, New York. Den Hollander had a history of filing gender discrimination suits, such as an unsuccessful lawsuit against a Manhattan night club that required him to pay $350 for a bottle of vodka to get in, while women were able to enter for free; and another against Columbia University, claiming their women’s studies courses discriminated against men. He had a case pending in front of Judge Salas over the male-only draft, and per The New York Times, he was frustrated that she was not moving quickly enough on it.
In her statement, Judge Salas, who did not mention Den Hollander by name, said that the gunman had compiled “a complete dossier on me and my family,” from their home address to the church they attended. “Currently, federal judges’ addresses and other information is readily available on the Internet,” she said. “In addition, there are companies that will sell your personal details that can be leveraged for nefarious purposes.”
Judge Salas acknowledged that federal judges like herself know that their work will be scrutinized, and that the decisions they make “can leave people angry and upset… 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 be easily obtained by anyone seeking to do us or our families harm.”
She then put out a call for reform, saying, “My son’s death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench. Now, more than ever, we need to identify a solution that keeps the lives of federal judges private. I know this is a complicated issue, and I don’t pretend to know or have all answers, but together we can find a way. Let’s commence a national dialogue, let’s work collaboratively to find a solution that will safeguard the privacy of federal judges.”
Elsewhere in the statement, Judge Salas recounted the moments leading up to the shooting, and offered an update on her husband, Mark Anderl, who is “still in the hospital recovering from multiple surgeries.” She also expressed her gratitude to first responders, doctors and law enforcement, as well as “everyone who reached out, and to everyone who said a prayer, and to everyone who is keeping my family in your thoughts — thank you. The outpouring of love has been overwhelming and I can tell you it has lifted us during our darkest hours.”
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