Federal judge opens up about returning to work 7 months after son killed

Judge Esther Salas is fighting for the protection of judges and other law enforcement officials.
5:56 | 03/02/21

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Transcript for Federal judge opens up about returning to work 7 months after son killed
Want to get right to our cover story. U.S. District court judge Esther Salas returning to the bench on Monday, seven months after her beloved son Daniel was murdered at their own home by a gunman who was targeting her. She has made it her mission to protect other judges and their families and calls her return a tribute to her son and we say good morning once again to judge Salas. It is so good to see you and we appreciate how your resilience and your strength, that of you and your husband. Can you tell us the emotions you were feeling when you returned to the bench yesterday and how it's a tribute to Daniel. Well, good morning, miss Roberts and let me start by saying I need to take this opportunity to thank my brothers and sisters on the district court bench of New Jersey. They really have covered for me these last seven months and it's important to note that before Daniel's murder, we were six judges down and we remain six judges down and despite that, they covered for me and never once complained so I'm blessed to be part of this federal family. You know, the return, it is -- it is bittersweet in a certain way because I'm returning to a job that I love so much, but also because of this job I lost my only son and so it's hard to reconcile those emotions, but I can tell you this, I know Daniel would want me to come back and I know that Daniel would want me to represent all women and Latinas everywhere and come back and show that I am not deterred and I will not be frightened or afraid to do what I love to do, which is be a United States district court judge. Yes, and the first Latina in New Jersey to do that. We know in your home state of New Jersey that Daniel's law was passed to help protect the information of judges and other law enforcement but in the U.S. Senate in December it did not pass, but you're not giving up, are you? No, I'm not giving up. This Latina doesn't take no for an answer and so I am continuing to fight for my brothers and sisters on the bench and I am optimistic. We've had some wonderful news, we know that senator Menendez tweeted on February 22nd that he is committed to seeing this through. We also saw that senator Durbin also supports this bill and also supports it moving quickly, so I am optimistic that we will see the bill introduced very soon and that together we will see this necessary change happen. I remain optimistic while also remaining committed to the cause and I really do hope to see this happen and hope to see it happen soon, miss Roberts. Because as you know, judge Salas, these threats are real. I mean the gunman who murdered your son, you recently reviled that there was a file and in that file was supreme court justice Sotomayor's name as well as the name of 12 other women judge, chilling. Yeah, he had a list. In this file that was in ray storage locker that had cured there was a Glock, there was ammunition and actual file on justice Sotomayor that had a lot of open source information on her. It also had a visitor guide to the supreme court. I mean, this -- when we think about what this could have become and what thankfully it didn't, you know, didn't come to fruition because of my son's bravery, because of my husband's bravery, a lot of people, I think, were spared, but I want to ensure that we spare all the men and women that serve on the bench because all we're doing is our job and we should be protected and we should have laws that protect us and send a strong message. Send a strong message. You are sending a strong message yourself. Can I just say that? Last time we spoke something you said resonated with me and so many, forgiving the gunman saying hate is heavy, love is light. How are you getting through these challenging times? You know, I have to say that there are -- there's so many things that have helped me in this journey. You and "Gma" and all of the press that we've gotten in the sense that you've allowed me to not only do what I need to do to have meaningful purpose after all of this, but you've also allowed me to tell my story which is very cathartic, but mostly god and my family and my loved ones that have surrounded me and enveloped me all this time since this horrific, you know, incident and I can only say that, you know, I am so blessed and mark and I are so blessed that we can see the good, we can see the wonderful things that have happened since and we will never forget our son. One of the things I want to make sure people understand is that I'm moving forward but not moving on. Daniel remains with me always in my heart, in my soul and he is with me and so I say to anyone who is suffering a loss, stay strong, stay committed to your faith and rely on those that love you to help you. Ask for that help. Yeah, amen. Moving forward, not on. That is so, so poignant. I know that mark is still recovering from his injuries. Please give him our best and thank you for your story of hope, thank you for you and mark. For continuing on. Thank you so much, miss Roberts. Thank you so much, miss Roberts. We'll keep in touch. I hope to. I hope to. God bless. Now to ginger.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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