Local roots
Salas is first Hispanic woman appointed district court judge
by Santo Sanabria
Reporter staff writer
Jul 24, 2011 | 7044 views | 1 1 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FOR THE PEOPLE – Federal Judge Esther Salas.
FOR THE PEOPLE – Federal Judge Esther Salas.

Former Union City resident and Emerson High School student Judge Esther Salas is the first Hispanic woman to be appointed a U.S. District Court judge in New Jersey. Back in 2006 Salas was the first Hispanic woman to serve as a United States magistrate judge in the District of New Jersey. So breaking new ground is not new to her.

The new post is a lifetime appointment, in contrast to the termed position of magistrate in the courts. Salas said after hearing of the new appointment, “I was humbled and overjoyed. It is hard to imagine to see a little girl [years later become] a judge. Lots of mentors and people helped me along the way.”


Esther Salas is originally from Monteray Park, Calif. At the age of 5 Salas and her mother, Aurelia Salas, moved to 27th Street in Union City with her other siblings. They later moved to 15th and Bergenline Avenue.

One of the things Salas remembers most is growing up and having to interpret for her mother at the Welfare office and later helping friends with life issues, which attracted her to a field of study focused on human services.


‘News of Esther’s appointment is an uplifting moment.’ - Joe Rudloff


Salas is a former Emerson High School student and was a cheerleader. After high school, Salas was interested in attending Rutgers with her friends because it was such a big school community, but it took some convincing for her mother to allow her to attend.

Salas dormed at the Rutgers campus and was active in clubs and activities, which she said helped her adjust to campus life. “I credit my success to minority programs in [Rutgers] New Brunswick,” she said. Later in her college career Salas interned at the Essex and Middlesex County courts before moving on to Rutgers Law School where she received a Juris Doctor.

Judge Salas worked temporarily for Garces & Grabler, where she practiced criminal matters in superior and municipal courts. Later, Salas worked as a federal public defender from 1997-2006 where she represented clients in federal matters and researched and drafted many documents.

Salas later served as magistrate judge for five years before being recommended by Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez to the position of U.S. District Court Judge of the United States District Court for the district of New Jersey.

Pres. Barack Obama nominated Salas to the position, which was later confirmed by the U.S. Senate.


Some of Judge Esther Salas’ teachers remember the class of 1987.

“As a social studies teacher and class advisor in 1987 I had the distinct pleasure and honor to know Judge Salas as a student during her high school years,” said the assistant principal of Union City High School, Daniel A. Frezzo. “She demonstrated a compassion and strong character that made her stand out amongst her peers. She was a true leader who continued along that path as she went off to college. I followed Esther and her band of friends as they each pursued their goals and remained close over the years. All like Esther became successful and maintained a high regard for community and giving back. Each year many of her friends return to our high school and spend the day speaking with our students.”

“The class of 1987 was a great class,” said Union City High School teacher Joe Rudloff. “Earlier this year, I had the privilege of visiting Judge Salas at her office in Newark. I am so glad that Esther still remembers her roots. Esther continuously referred back to her teachers and the wonderful education that she received in the Union City School system.”

Rudloff said, “For the past year, educators have taken a major hit. We are now being viewed as villains thanks to our governor. Yet, when I heard that Esther received 100 percent approval from the United States Senate to be appointed to the position of federal magistrate, I knew it was important to get the message out to the teachers in the Union City School System that we have another success story. Too many times, we hear about the failures. News of Esther's appointment is an uplifting moment for the teachers, friends, and family.”


Judge Esther has been happily married for 18 years to Mark Anderl. They have an 11-year-old son, Daniel, who plays left field and pitches for his Little League team. Judge Salas is also a Met fan.

Salas said her husband has been a great support in raising their child Daniel during her initial work in the courts, which took lots of her time.

She said that when she underwent a background check, she found out where her father lived. This allowed her to reconnect with him after he had lost contact with her and her family when they moved away from the West Coast.

Santo Sanabria may be reached at SSanabria@hudsonreporter.com.

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April 01, 2012
I had the pleasure of being in the presence of Judge Esther Salas on Jan. 11, 2011 representing my case. Judge Esther Salas is a judge of integrity and want to do right by the law. Judge Esther Salas heard my case and said to me you will not walk out of this court room unless this case is resolved. Judge Esther Salas was made aware of what I had been through with four prior attorneys. I cried my hear out to her and she said I will remove you from this negative energy you do not belong here you have a bright future ahead of you. I am disgusted what you have been through with these attorneys and she said the in front of my attorney that has my case now. Judge Esther Salas said I will remove you from this and you need to keep walking and not look back life is one big circle just remember that. Judge Esther Salas said I rather spend my money on shoes and pocket books before handing it over to an attorney. Judge Esther Salas said just by looking at you and your disposition you are a very positive lady that just wants to do the right thing you need to be removed from all this bad energy because it's no good for you.

I was very lucky to end up in her chambers and Judge Salas being able to see I just wanted to get on with my life after all I have been through. Here I am 1 yr 21/2 months later in the process of getting evicted on 4/12/2012 because my attorney has not done right by me. It was the kiss of death when Judge Esther Salas said I rather spend my money on shoes and pocket books than hand it over to an attorney. I have money that has been sitting in the courts since Sept. 27, 2010 that has not been released. Judge Esther Salas has done a very honorable thing by me but I have been raked through the coals lied to manipulated by and attorney that has done nothing but hinder me has put me in a position of being evicted 4/12/12 and turned my life upside down. My attorney has even mocked me and said you need to go get some help when she is the cause of my stress my attorney has even said go get some public assistance. I believe there is a law out there to protect me by this and pull me through in the grace of god. I feel like my wings have been clipped and I am trying with all my heart to remove myself but I can do but so much.

I have so many people in my corner that are dumbfounded by all this. I have my aunt my moms sister saying I can't believe you have ended up in a situation like this when you have done the right thing in life. My aunt says how could you have ended up in the hands of such a heartless and vindictive individual. My aunt and everyone else says how can she put her head to the pillow at night when she has children of her own. I say this is a nightmare I can't wake up from.

I Cecilia Triana am just looking for justice and reaching out to anyone that would see my position in this matter. No one has the right to walk into anyones life and turn it upside down just because.