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NJSBA to celebrate Salas, Petrillo at annual judges reception

November 21, 2022
Contact: Thomas Nobile
Director of Communications
Tel: 732-937-7527
[email protected]
NEW BRUNSWICK – The New Jersey State Bar Association’s Annual Reception for Diverse Judges is back after three years to honor two distinguished jurists on Nov. 30.
U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas and Essex County Superior Court Judge Stephen L. Petrillo are this year’s honorees for the Justice Thurgood Marshall Award. The honor is presented by the NJSBA Board of Trustees and the Diversity Committee to judges who advance diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
A reception honoring the judges will be held at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Visit to register.
Judge Esther Salas
Judge Salas is known for her trailblazing path to the federal bench as the first Hispanic judge in the U.S. District of New Jersey. She rose to the Judiciary through her work representing indigent criminal clients as an attorney for the Federal Public Defender for the District of New Jersey.
Tragedy befell Judge Salas and her family in July 2020, when her son Daniel was shot and killed inside their home by an individual who had compiled a dossier of personal information about the judge, including her home address. In response to the shooting, Judge Salas worked tirelessly with the governor and state Legislature to help enact Daniel’s Law, legislation that protects the home addresses and telephone numbers of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers from public disclosure. The measure was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in November 2020. Judge Salas continues to advocate for the law’s adoption at the federal level.
In selecting Judge Salas for the award, the Diversity Committee noted her remarkable mentorship and support she has shown other attorneys of color across the state, along with her work with the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey and their Passaic High School Pipeline Program, and her outspoken, brave advocacy on behalf of protecting federal judges across the nation.
Judge Stephen L. Petrillo
Judge Petrillo is a mainstay on the education circuit as a panelist and moderator at judicial education events, bar conferences and NJICLE seminars. His programs touch on landlord/tenant law and a variety of practice areas.
In 2018, after two years in the Essex County Chancery Division, Judge Petrillo was assigned to the Law Division, and since then has served as the supervising judge of the Special Civil Part. New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner temporarily assigned him to the state Appellate Division from March until June of 2022. In that  span, he authored 12 opinions for the court and sat on panels which decided dozens more.
In selecting Judge Petrillo, NJSBA leaders noted his service to the state Supreme Court Diversity Inclusion and Community Engagement Committee, his efforts to communicate about the operation of landlord/tenant court to underserved communities in the Essex County vicinage, and his participation at judicial education events on LGBTQ+ issues including sensitivity to language and implicit bias.

Contact: NJSBA Communications Department
Tel: 732-937-7527
Email: [email protected]


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