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Mon Jul 20, 2020, 07:12 PM

A Latina trailblazer: Esther Salas, federal judge whose son was killed, described as 'mentor'

As New Jersey's first Hispanic U.S. District judge, Esther Salas has long been seen as an accomplished and admired Latina legal trailblazer.

Now the judge considered a mentor to many has been thrust into the national spotlight. On Sunday evening, a gunman reportedly posing as a delivery man shot and killed Salas’ only son, Daniel Anderl, 20, and critically injured her husband, Mark Anderl, 63, at their home. Authorities believe an attorney found dead in New York on Monday was the shooter, law enforcement sources told NBC New York.

“A lot of hearts are breaking right now,” David Lopez, co-dean of Rutgers Law School told NBC News. “There is a tremendous amount of love in our law school community for Judge Salas. I’ve been hearing such an outpouring of sadness and pain — and also support.” Lopez describes Salas as an “outstanding” alumnus who always takes time to meet with and mentor law students.

Salas is the first Hispanic to serve as a federal district court judge in New Jersey; then-President Barack Obama nominated her in 2010. Prior to that, she was New Jersey’s first Latina federal magistrate judge and worked as a public defender and in private practice.

“As a first-generation lawyer, she has had an incredible path to the federal bench,” Lopez said of Salas. “People are very sad, because she is known as someone who always gives back. She is a ‘pay it forward’ kind of person, and we are all praying for her, pulling for her, and sending our love her way.”


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