Esther Salas

Title: District Court
Appointed by: Barack H. Obama
Judicial Tenure: 2011
Born: 1968
Birth Place: Los Angeles, CA

Born Haddon Lee Sarokin in Perth Amboy, New Jersey and raised in Maplewood, New Jersey, Sarokin is the son of a newspaperman who named him after Haddison Ivins, who had been the editor of the Hudson Dispatch. "It's a dreadful name, which I dropped," Sarokin told the New York Times in 1985. Sarokin earned a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College in 1950 and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1953.

Sarokin worked in private practice in Newark, New Jersey from 1955 until 1979. In 1978, Sarokin worked as the finance chairman for his friend, Bill Bradley, who was running for a U.S. Senate seat to represent New Jersey. After Bradley won, he recommended Sarokin for a federal judgeship. On September 28, 1979, President Carter nominated Sarokin to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey that had been vacated by Lawrence Whipple. The U.S. Senate confirmed Sarokin on October 31, 1979.

In 1985, Sarokin famously overturned the 1967 triple murder conviction of middleweight boxer Rubin Carter. Sarokin had ruled that Carter had not received a fair trial. In 1988, Sarokin presided over a landmark cigarette liability lawsuit that resulted in a $400,000 payment to the estate of Rose Cipollone, who died in 1984 after smoking for 40 years. Although the case was reversed on appeal, it was the first cash award ever in a case involving a death from smoking. In 1991, Sarokin famously ruled that a homeless man could not be barred from a public library in Morristown, New Jersey because of his odor. That order eventually was overturned.

On May 5, 1994, President Clinton nominated Sarokin to a newly created seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. On October 4, 1994, the U.S. Senate voted 63-35 to confirm Sarokin to the seat on the Third Circuit.

In a speech in April 1996, presidential candidate Bob Dole cited Sarokin as one of six federal appellate and district judges that Clinton had appointed to the federal courts that Dole had deemed to be liberal activist judges.

On June 5, 1996, Sarokin announced that he would resign outright from the Third Circuit, effective July 31, 1996. Sarokin cited his fear that his opinions from the bench might be used politically." It is apparent that there are those who have decided to 'Willie Hortonize' the Federal judiciary, and that I am to be one of their prime targets," he wrote in a letter to President Clinton. "In the current political campaign, enforcement of constitutional rights is equated with being soft on crime and indeed, even causing it."

Other Federal Judicial Service

  • U.S. Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, 2006-2011

Professional Career

  • Law clerk, Hon. Eugene J. Codey, Jr., Superior Court of New Jersey, 1994-1995
  • Private practice, Plainfield, New Jersey, 1995-1997
  • Assistant federal public defender, District of New Jersey, 1997-2006


  • Rutgers University, B.A., 1991
  • Rutgers School of Law -- Newark, J.D., 1994

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