TRENTON, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today stood with U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas as Governor Phil Murphy signed Daniel’s Law, legislation named after her late son, Daniel Anderl, to better protect the privacy of judges and their families. Sen. Menendez, along with Sen. Cory Booker, renewed their call to pass federal legislation they introduced in response to the deadly, targeted attack on Salas’ New Jersey home by a gunman who found her address online.
“To everyone who played a role in getting this done, I thank you. However, our work does not end here. We must extend these privacy protections nationwide, so that no one lives through what Judge Salas and her husband lived through,” Sen. Menendez said. “We are living in a time of endless vitriol, rising hate crimes, and increased personal attacks. And while we may not be able to eliminate hatred from someone’s heart, we can take action to better protect the men and women of our federal bench. That’s why I am proud to see Governor Murphy sign Daniel’s Law here in New Jersey– and why I remain committed to the passage of the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act in Washington.
“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, Mark, have gone through something that no parent should ever have to endure. I am grateful for the leadership of Governor Murphy, Senator Cryan, and Assemblywoman Quijano as we honor the memory of Daniel with a commitment that this should never happen again.”
Shortly after the July attack on the Salas-Anderl family, Sen. Menendez made a personal commitment to Judge Salas, whom he had recommended to the federal bench, that he would introduce legislation to better protect federal judges and help prevent another unthinkable tragedy from happening again.
In September, Sens. Menendez, Cory Booker and Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (N.J.-11) introduced The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2020. The bicameral, bipartisan bill would shield the personally identifiable information of federal judges and their immediate family who share their residence, including home addresses, social security numbers, personal contact information, and other identifying information.
The legislation establishes guidelines for federal agencies, state and local governments and commercial data collectors to create safeguards to protect the personal information of active, senior, recalled or retired federal judges and their immediate family by:
- Prohibiting government agencies from publicly posting of judges’ personally identifiable information and allows judges to request the removal of their information within 72 hours if it is already posted;
- Creating a federal grant program for state and local governments to help cover costs to prevent the release of judges’ personally identifiable information from any agency that operates a database or registry that contains this information;
- Authorizing funding for state and local governments to create or expand programs to protect judges’ personally identifiable information, such as programs to redact information from tax, property and state motor vehicle records, among others, or the hiring of a third party to scrub the information from the internet;
- Prohibiting commercial data collectors to sell, trade, license, purchase or provide judges’ personally identifiable information and authorizes the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) to provide data brokers with a current list of federal judges and their immediate family members for the purpose of compliance and;
- Allowing injunctive relief and a private right-of-action for violations of the law.
The bill would also authorize funding for the AO and United States Marshals Service (USMS) to monitor and assess 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. Marshals, and other personnel to ensure the agency is able to anticipate and deter threats to federal judges.
“This is a renewed commitment to ensure our judiciary, prosecutors, and members of law enforcement who answer the call of justice can do so without fear for their personal safety, or that of their loved ones,” said Gov. Murphy. “By shielding the home addresses and private contact information for those who serve on the bench and enforce our laws, we are demonstrating that in the face of unspeakable tragedy, New Jersey responds not with thoughts and prayers, but with concrete action.”
“My husband, Mark, and I would like to thank Governor Murphy and all the men and women of the NJ State Legislature for enacting this trailblazing legislation,” said Judge Salas. “We hope this law can be a steppingstone to improving the security of my sisters and brothers who serve as federal judges throughout the country. Nobody should be forced to endure the kind of pain my family has experienced ever again. Together we can work to ensure that all members of the judiciary (federal, state, and municipal courts) can perform their duties without fear of retribution or harm. Daniel used to say, ‘mom, I love talking with you.’ I know Daniel is listening now, and he is smiling down on us today because he knows that with this bill signing, we are doing our part to ensure that his death will not be in vain.”
In July, a man, posing as a FedEx delivery driver, went to the home of Judge Salas and opened fire, critically wounding her husband, Mark Anderl, and killing their 20-year-old son, Daniel. The gunman, identified by authorities as a “men’s rights” attorney, had previously argued a case before Judge Salas and used publicly available information to target the judge. Judge Salas later made a personal, public plea for greater privacy protections for federal judges.
New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, State Senators Joe Cryan and Nicholas Scutari and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano also attended today’s bill signing at the Trenton War Memorial.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, are cosponsors of the federal bill. U.S. Representatives John Carter (Texas-31), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Andy Kim (N.J.-03) and Grace Meng (N.Y.-06) are cosponsoring the companion bill in the House. The bill is supported by the New Jersey State Bar Association.
A copy of the bill text can be found here.