New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Jaynee LaVecchia is expected to announce her retirement today, setting up an election year nomination to the top court by Gov. Phil Murphy.
LaVecchia 66, still had 42 months left before she reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.
“After spending almost my entire professional career – more than 40 years – in public service in various legal and policy positions within the Executive Branch and then the Supreme Court, I have decided after much reflection that it is time for a change,” LaVecchia said in a statement released by the courts.
She has not yet decided what her next step will be.
“After a little rest and relaxation, I plan to assess what new professional opportunities may lie ahead, including service to the community. Also, I would like to have more flexibility in my personal life,” said LaVecchia. “Most of all I want the flexibility to be able to enjoy more time with my family, including my extended family, who live in many parts of the country.”
She will retire on August 31, at the end of the current court term.
“It has been a privilege to hold the position of an Associate Justice for these more than 21 years. I revere the Court’s importance in our constitutional structure, and I have striven to uphold the Court’s independence and esteem during my service,” LaVecchia said “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the many members of the Court with whom I have served, and the three extraordinary Chief Justices who have led the Court during my period of service: Chief Poritz, Chief Zazzali, and now our current Chief Justice, the Honorable Stuart Rabner.”
Murphy will now get his second pick to the state’s top court after nominating Fabiana Pierre-Louis in 2020.
LaVecchia is technically the lone unaffiliated voter on the Supreme Court, but she is widely viewed as a Republican. This gives Murphy a chance to pick a Democrat and potentially shift the partisan makeup of the New Jersey Supreme Court to 4-3 for the Democrats.
She served as an assistant counsel to Gov Tom Kean in the 1980s and served in Gov. Christine Todd Whitman’s cabinet prior to her nomination by Whitman to Supreme Court in 1999. Her late husband, Michael Cole, was Kean’s chief counsel.
This story was updated at 4:16 PM with comment from LaVecchia.