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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11)

Bill named for Daniel Anderl, son of Judge Esther Salas murdered in targeted attack at their NJ home

WASHINGTON, DC – Representatives Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) and John Carter (TX-31) formally introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2020 in the House this week. The legislation, named for federal Judge Esther Salas’s son who was murdered during a violent home invasion—would safeguard the personally identifiable information of federal judges and their immediate families, which leaves them vulnerable to potential threats. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (NJ) have introduced companion legislation with Senator Lindsay Graham (SC), chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

“Judge Salas and her husband have experienced the most tragic thing any parent can imagine – losing their child – because an angry person who appeared before Judge Salas targeted them in their home. Choosing to work in service to our country should not put your family in danger,” said Rep. Sherrill. “This legislation provides the United States Marshals Service, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and state and local governments with tools that will help law enforcement do its job and keep our federal judges safe.”

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 find the judge’s home. Judge Salas later made a personal, public plea for greater privacy protections for federal judges.

“We recently saw with the tragic attack on Judge Esther Salas’ family that safeguarding a judge’s personal information is a life or death matter,” said Rep. Carter. “As a retired judge myself, I’m all too familiar with the high stakes involved in the law. A judge’s ruling can alter lives forever, and when one side will always be disappointed, it’s important judges feel safe to make the legally appropriate decision without fear of retribution. Keeping a federal judge’s information out of the public sphere improves safety of federal judges and their families. I want to thank Rep. Sherrill for her bipartisan leadership on this issue.”

The Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act of 2020 would shield the personally identifiable information of federal judges and their immediate family who share their residence, including home addresses, social security numbers, contact information, tax records, marital and birth records, vehicle information, photos of their vehicle and home, and the name of the schools and employers of their immediate family members.

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.

The bill is supported by the New Jersey State Bar Association.