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Who is New Jersey federal Judge Esther Salas?

Written by on July 20, 2020

Esther Salas, who made headlines over the past 24 hours after a gunman fatally shot her son and wounded her husband, is the first Hispanic woman to be appointed a U.S. district judge in New Jersey.

Salas was at home on Sunday around 5 p.m. when her son, 20-year-old Daniel  Anderl, and her husband, defense lawyer Mark Anderl, 63, were shot by a man disguised as a FedEx driver, officials said.

The FBI later identified their main suspect as Roy Den Hollander, a self-described “anti-feminist” lawyer who, according to the Associated Press, was found dead in the Catskills of New York on Monday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Daniel Anderl (Saint Joseph High School)

Daniel Anderl (Saint Joseph High School)

LAWYER FOUND DEAD IN UPSTATE NY MAY BE LINKED TO NEW JERSEY SHOOTING AT JUDGE’S HOUSE

Daniel, a college student, could not be saved. He was her only child, officials said.

Salas, who was seated in Newark, was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed in 2011. Before then, she served as a U.S. magistrate judge in New Jersey, after working as an assistant public defender for several years.

Attorney General William P. Barr acknowledged the tragedy and offered his condolences in a statement on Monday.

MANHUNT UNDERWAY FOR GUNMAN IN NEW JERSEY ATTACK ON FEDERAL JUDGE’S SON, HUSBAND

“I send my deepest condolences to Judge Salas and her family on the death of their son and wish her husband a swift and complete recovery,” he said. “This kind of lawless, evil action carried out against a member of the federal judiciary will not be tolerated, and I have ordered the full resources of the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service to investigate the matter.”

In a “Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees,” which she completed in November 2010, when she was nominated for the district judge position, then-Magistrate Judge Salas described how she had served in that role since 2006 and previously worked for the Office of the Federal Public Defender from 1997 to 2006.

Prior to that, Salas worked as a law clerk, and then an associate for a law firm in Plainfield, N.J.

Salas was born in 1968 in Los Angeles, Calif., to a Cuban immigrant mother and Mexican father, and spent most of her childhood in Union City, N.J. After helping her family escape a devastating house fire, she acted as her mother’s translator and advocate, foreshadowing her career in law as she argued her family’s case to welfare officials, she told New Jersey Monthly for a 2018 interview.

She received her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University in 1991, before moving on to Rutgers School of Law, from which she graduated in 1994, according to the judicial questionnaire.

She has been very active in the legal community, including as a member of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey, for which she served as president from 2001 to 2002, the Hispanic Bar Foundation of New Jersey, serving as president from 2005 to 2006, and as a member of two committees for the state Supreme Court: the Committee on Women in the Courts and the Committee on Minority Concerns, the questionnaire shows.

U.S. District Judge Esther Salas; Mark Anderl (ANDERL & OAKLEY, PC)

U.S. District Judge Esther Salas; Mark Anderl (ANDERL & OAKLEY, PC)

In an emailed statement provided to Fox News, Hispanic National Bar Association National President Irene Oria said Salas “has been and continues to be a courageous community leader and trailblazer, and also serves as a role model and mentor for countless young attorneys.”

“HNBA family was heartbroken last night to hear of the horrible tragedy that has befallen our sister Judge Esther Salas,” Oria said. “We pray for her, her husband and her son. We also encourage federal authorities to conduct a swift and thorough investigation of this matter to bring justice for the Salas family.”

NEW JERSEY FEDERAL JUDGE’S SON KILLED, HUSBAND SHOT AT HOME

Salas and Anderl met when she was a law school intern and he was working as an assistant prosecutor in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, she told New Jersey Monthly. He approached her while she was getting fingerprinted, she recalled to the outlet.

“We’ve been inseparable since 1992,” she added, according to the report.

In the profile, Salas spoke of her son possibly following his parents into the legal profession.

“He’s been arguing with us since he could talk — practicing his advocacy skills,” Salas told New Jersey Monthly. “I don’t want to dissuade him, but I was pulling for a doctor.”

Just last week, Salas was appointed to hear an ongoing lawsuit brought by Deutsche Bank investors who claim the company made false and misleading statements about its anti-money laundering policies and failed to monitor “high-risk” customers, including convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

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Her highest-profile case in recent years was the financial fraud case involving husband-and-wife “Real Housewives of New Jersey” reality TV stars Teresa and Joe Giudice, whom Salas sentenced to prison for crimes including bankruptcy fraud and tax evasion. Salas staggered their sentences so that one of them could be available to take care of their four children.

In 2017, she barred federal prosecutors from seeking the death penalty against an alleged gang leader charged in several Newark slayings, ruling the man’s intellectual disability made him ineligible for capital punishment. Salas later sentenced the man to 45 years in prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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