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The New York Times

Opinion: My son was murdered because I am a federal judge

PROTECTING THE JUDGES IS ESSENTIAL TO OUR FAMILIES AND OUR DEMOCRACY “Let’s keep talking; I love talking to you, Mom.” Those were the last words my only son, Daniel, said to me as we cleaned the basement after his birthday celebrations. He was still very happy because of a glorious weekend at home with his parents and friends. Then the doorbell rang. Daniel hurried up the stairs. Seconds later, while I was alone in our basement, my beloved son was shot to death. Mark Anderl, my husband of 25 years, was shot three times and seriously injured.This tragedy, every mother’s worst nightmare, happened for a reason that has nothing to do with my husband or my son, but rather with my job: I’m a United States District Judge. An attorney who had appeared before me was angered by the pace of a lawsuit he had filed in my court. He came to my house seeking revenge. My attacker was seeking to hurt me, but his anger and focus were not unique. Federal judges are at risk of encountering other potential attackers. For judges and their families, having better security is a matter of life and death. However, its importance goes beyond our well-being. For the good of our nation, judicial security is essential. Federal judges must be free to make their decisions, no matter how unpopular, without fear of harm. The federal government has a responsibility to protect all federal judges because our protection is fundamental to our great democracy. Since Daniel’s death, he vowed to do everything he can to make similar tragedies less likely. Last month, New Jersey passed what is known as Daniel’s Law, which prohibits the distribution of personal information, including the address and phone numbers, of judges, attorneys and law enforcement personnel. Daniel, I found out through FBI agents that it is easy to find personal information about judges on the internet. Judges’ addresses can be purchased online for as little as a few dollars, including photographs of our homes and the license plates of our vehicles. In my case, this deranged gunman was able to create a complete record of my life: I stalk my neighborhood, map my routes to work, and even learned the names of my best friend and the church I attend. All of that was completely legal. This access to such personal information allowed this man to take our only son from us. Now the United States Senate needs to pass the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act, which would provide greater protections for federal judges. Identical legislation has been brought before the House of Representatives. The bipartisan bill would protect judges’ personally identifiable information from being resold by data merchants. It would also allow federal judges to hide personal information displayed on federal government websites and prevent the publication of personal information by other companies and individuals when there is no legitimate interest from the news media or it is not a matter of public relevance. I would also encourage states to protect personal information, improve the ability of the U.S. Marshals Service to identify threats, and authorize improvements to security systems in judges’ homes. The ambush that took the life of my son and seriously injured my husband is not the first attack of its kind. In 2005, United States District Judge Joan Lefkow from Chicago came to her home to discover that an angry litigant had killed her mother and husband. Since 1979, four federal judges have been assassinated and the threat to judges is intensifying. Security incidents targeting judges and other staff who play integral roles in federal court cases rose to 4,449 threats and inappropriate communications in 2019, compared to 926 such incidents in 2015, according to the Marshals Service. Federals On October 31, a federal judge in Houston was informed by a former court clerk that his home address had been posted on Twitter. On November 25, an intruder broke into a judge’s office in Southern California, threatened to kill him, and damaged his desk with a metal baton that was later discovered to have a knife. The attacker fled after the judge, who was unharmed, called 911. In my case, Roy Den Hollander, a New York attorney who filed a lawsuit against all-male military conscription, harbored fatal grudges. On July 11, 2020, he killed a lawyer in California. Eight days later, he came to our door and murdered Daniel. Too late I realized that he often described himself as “anti-feminist.” In a self-published memoir, she described myself as “a lazy and incompetent Latina judge appointed by Obama.” A determined murderer will always be hard to stop, but we make it too easy to locate judges. Withdrawing our personally identifiable information from the internet is a critical first defense. Making the judges’ homes more secure is also essential. In 2005, after the attack on Judge Lefkow’s family, Congress funded security systems for the judges’ homes. These measures urgently need to be updated to include outdoor video cameras and other protection features common in commercially available home security systems.In my home, the only way to see who has made it to the front door is to look out a bay window . In mid-July, after four months of restrictions due to COVID-19, home deliveries occurred almost daily. Daniel’s killer took advantage of this routine and came to our door dressed as a Fed-Ex deliveryman. Investigators told me they believe Daniel prevented a planned attack on me by advancing on the gunman. My husband slowed the attack even further by standing up even after being hit by three shots at point-blank range. By the time he reached the main floor, the attacker had fled. If Daniel’s death serves to prove anything to our country, it is that the threats against federal judges are real and have dire consequences. Even at the age of 20, my son cared deeply for other people. In a brave and generous way, he protected those he loved the most. We too must be brave and do what is right to ensure that judges can perform their duties without fear that they or their families will be executed where they are most vulnerable. Daniel’s death is sending us a message, but will we heed ? For the sake of my brothers and sisters who head the courts, Congress must act now. Every day that passes without action leaves our federal judges, our judicial system and our democracy itself in jeopardy.This article originally appeared in The New York Times. (C) 2020 The New York Times Company

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