Image courtesy of Office of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez
By Javi Mazariegos
On Thursday September 24, the New Jersey State Assembly unanimously codified a statute known as “Daniel’s Law”, which protects the security of federal judges and their families. The law is named after Catholic University’s Daniel Anderl, the son of Federal Judge Ester Salas, who was killed at the front steps of his home in July.
Daniel was shot at point-blank range by a gunman disguised as a FedEx driver who rang the doorbell of his home with the intent of killing his mother, Judge Salas. Daniel’s father, defense attorney Mark Anderl, was shot three times before the gunman made his escape.
Daniel’s funeral was attended by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, New Jersey’s Senator Bob Menendez, President Garvey, his closest friends from the Catholic University community. His hometown parish pastor, Fr. Lynam, explained that Daniel’s death was an incarnation of the Gospel’s “no man has greater love than this, to lay down his life for his friends.”
The Catholic University community shares this sentiment deeply. Now, the New Jersey State Assembly has given Daniel another honor in naming their state law A.B. 1649 in his honor.
The law protects the information of federal judges; in particular, it prevents personal information, such as home address and phone number, from being shared on the internet, where it is vulnerable to access by anyone.
Catholic University senior Paul Quesnel was a pallbearer at Daniel’s funeral, and one of his dearest friends on campus. “There’s a touch of irony in this whole affair,” said Quesnel. “Even though his studies were cut short by a tragic event, thanks to this law Dan will still end up having an impact on the judicial world.”
Quesnel continued, “I know how driven he was, and he would have definitely contributed to lots of impactful cases. I guess having a law named after you is the next best thing. The news of his death shattered me, but it’s comforting to see that he won’t be forgotten. I know I won’t forget him, and I know he’s looking out for me from heaven.”
According to the state assembly’s website, “Daniel’s Law prohibits disclosure of home address or unpublished telephone number of certain law enforcement officers, judicial officers and prosecutors; establishes crime and civil action for disclosing such information.”
The bill was supported by the entire state assembly, passing unanimously.
In her first public interview since her son’s death in July, Judge Salas sat down with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts and opened up about her son and her husband.
“I said I have to protect and at least help to protect my brothers and sisters on the bench. And how do we do that? We do that by never letting anyone forget Daniel,” Salas said. “Never letting anyone forget what he did for us. Never letting anyone forget the high price we all pay if, indeed, the right things aren’t done.”
At the federal level, Senator Bob Menendez, who recommended Salas to the bench, committed himself to passing similar legislation in Congress. He, along with his colleagues Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), has put forward a bipartisan effort to pass the Daniel Andrel Judicial Security and Privacy Act. Former Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was instrumental in crafting the language of the bill. Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), has co-sponsored the legislation.
The act would provide the U.S. Marshall Service, the administrative offices of U.S. courts, and local governments with the tools to safeguard private information. It would help fund the Marshall Service to monitor online threats, maintain records, investigate complaints, and address acts of aggression and violations. It would also allow the USMS to hire additional intelligence analysts, deputy U.S. Marshalls, and other personnel to ensure the agency is able to anticipate and deter threats to federal judges.
Some practical points in the bill include authorizing funding for state and local governments to create or expand programs to protect judges’ personally identifiable information, prohibiting commercial data collectors to sell, trade, license, purchase or provide judges’ personally identifiable information.
“No person who takes on the responsibility of serving as a federal judge should ever have to live in fear that they or their family could be targeted by someone who is able to easily access their personal information,” said Sen. Booker. “Judge Salas and her husband have gone through something that no parent should ever, ever have to endure. Today, we grieve with them and we stand with them as they honor the memory of their son Daniel with a commitment that this should never happen again.”
In her interview with Roberts, Judge Salas concluded with the focus on her son’s beautiful life. “This man took the most important thing in my life. I can’t let him take anything else,” Salas said, later adding, “My son gave his life for his father and I. I have to look at that and say, ‘what a gift.’ I can’t squander it.”