FDCC Letter to the Profession

In our ordered society, the sanctity of human life is sacrosanct. There is simply no place for, nor can we ever countenance, the use of indiscriminate or pre-meditated violence against our fellow citizens. This is equally true with respect to our judges and their families. Their independence and unfettered discharge of justice and equity must remain free of retribution. Their privacy must also remain protected from being infringed upon.

On July 19, 2020, the quiet of a suburban, tree-lined New Jersey neighborhood was shattered by gun fire. A gunman, disguised as a delivery worker, allegedly targeted US District Court Judge Esther Salas, killing her son Daniel Anderl, a student at Catholic University, who was killed while trying to protect his father and the Judge’s husband, criminal defense attorney Mark Anderl, who, after being shot several times, was left seriously injured. The entire membership of the FDCC extends its heartfelt condolences to Judge Salas and her husband, Mark Andrerl.

However, the extension of condolences is not enough. The actions of Daniel Andrel’s killer not only destroyed a family but represent an attack on the independence of the judiciary. We need to do more and we need to do it now. An independent judiciary is a cornerstone to our free society because it allows for the clear and consistent application of the rule of law. Attacks on judges and their families jeopardize this integral American value. Unfortunately, such attacks and intimidations are occurring more frequently. According to the U.S. Marshals Service, there were 4,449 threats and inappropriate communications against protected court personnel in 2019. In 2015, that number was 926. Further, there were 4,542 reports of threats or inappropriate communications to family members in 2018, representing a six-fold increase from the 768 reported in 2014. As Chief Justice Roberts recently stated, judges must “do their job without fear or favor.” 

The FDCC not only supports Judge Salas’s heartfelt plea that steps be taken to keep judges’ personal information private for their protection and the protection of their families; but today, we call upon and invite our colleagues within the Bar and federal and state legislators to join with all FDCC members to begin the task of developing and putting into law appropriate legislative protections to secure the protection and privacy of our judges and their families in order to secure the independence of our judiciary.

Only in this way can we properly honor the promising life of Daniel Anderl that was prematurely cut short and make sure that this never happens again.