Superior Court Judge Steven F. Nemeth will retire on Monday, ending a 15-year stint on the bench.
The 65-year-old Nemeth is stepping down five years before he would reach the mandatory retirement age in July 2027.
That increases the number of Superior Court vacancies from 62 to 63, a total of 13.6%, in a state court system that is already battling a substantial backlog.
The New Jersey Supreme Court presently has three vacancies out of seven seats.
Gov. Phil Murphy nominated Rachel Wainer Apter, a former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in March 2021. But under the unwritten rule of senatorial courtesy, the Judiciary Committee will not consider her nomination until the last of her home county senators, Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale), signs off on her.
If Schepisi doesn’t sign off, Wainer Apter will either need to move to another county or Murphy will eventually have to withdraw her nomination.
Murphy has still not nominated anyone to fill vacant seats occupied by Faustino Fernandez-Vina, who retired on February 15, and Barry Albin, who left on July 7.
Gov. Jon Corzine nominated Nemeth, an Ocean County Republican, to the Superior Court in 2007. He received tenure in 2014. Nemeth spent seven years as a family court judge before being assigned to the criminal court in 2016.
Prior to his nomination, he practiced law at a politically prominent, old Ocean County law firm, Berry, Sahradnik, Kotzas & Benson. The firm’s founder, Franklin Berry, a prosecutor at Nuremberg, was the father of former Assemblyman Franklin Berry, Jr. (R-Toms River).
The firm as Ocean County’s law firm and Nemeth served as an assistant county counsel.