esther salas

Federal NJ Judge Whose Son Died in Ambush Returns to Bench

Following the attack, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a new law aimed at protecting judges’ personal information from being publicly accessible

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What to Know

  • Judge Esther Salas lost her 20-year-old son and her husband was gravely wounded when a gunman stormed into their New Jersey home over the summer and opened fire
  • Federal authorities say disgruntled attorney Roy Den Hollander committed the attack before dying by suicide
  • Following the attack, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a new law aimed at protecting judges’ personal information from being publicly accessible

The New Jersey federal judge who lost her son and saw her husband gravely wounded in a shooting ambush by a disgruntled attorney has returned to work.

Judge Esther Salas had vowed to use her personal tragedy to motivate her further to be the best judge and person she can be. She was back on the bench Monday, nearly eight months after a gunman named Roy Den Hollander, a "men's rights" lawyer and frequent litigant, shot her husband Mark and son Daniel Anderl at their North Brunswick home.

Salas recalled that she was in the basement on July 19, talking to her 20-year-old son when the doorbell rang.

"Before I could tell him, 'Let Dad handle it,' he shot up the stairs," Salas said in an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America" last year. "The next thing I hear is, 'Boom!' and then 'No!"

Salas recounted hearing a series of gunshots and ran upstairs. She says she saw her son, lying perpendicular to the door holding his chest; her husband was on his hands and knees at the porch, after having crawled in an effort to get the license plate. Her husband screamed to call 911. She says she did that, then lifted her son's shirt and saw the bullet hole that killed him. Authorities said Hollander was pretending to be a delivery driver.

Later investigators revealed Hollander had killed another lawyer in California days before the ambush in New Jersey. He was found dead by suicide the next day, with a list of what authorities believe were potential targets, including other judges. In a recent interview with CBS News' “60 Minutes," Salas said Hollander also targeted Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

daniel anderl, son of a new jersey federal judge
St. Joseph's High School
Daniel Anderl, 20, son of a New Jersey federal judge died Sunday, July 19, after a gunman shot the young man and his father at their North Brunswick home.

In the weeks after the shooting, Salas called for increased privacy for federal judges. She spoke out forcefully and heartfully, saying her son's death would not be in vain.

Daniel’s Law, signed by Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy last year, imposes penalties on anyone who publishes personal identifying information such as home addresses or phone numbers for active and former federal, state, county and municipal judges and their family members, as well as prosecutors and law enforcement officers.

Similar legislation had been proposed in Congress that would apply nationwide. It failed to pass the Senate in December, but could be reintroduced this year.

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