Home>Highlight>Biden picks top Port Authority lawyer, Superior Court judge, as federal judges in N.J.

U.S. District Court Judge-designate Michael E. Farbiarz. (Photo: New York University Law School).

Biden picks top Port Authority lawyer, Superior Court judge, as federal judges in N.J.

Michael Farbiarz and Robert Kirsch announced for vacant U.S. District Court seat

By David Wildstein, December 21 2022 1:36 pm

President Joe Biden will nominate Michael Farbiarz, the general counsel of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch,  to serve as a U.S. District Court for New Jersey, the New Jersey Globe has confirmed.

The 48-year-old Farbiarz spent almost ten years as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he led counter terrorism prosecutions.  Farbiarz was the lead prosecutor of eleven deep-cover Russian agents, including Anna Chapman, a Russian émigré who hid in plain sight in New York before she was charged as a spy.  He also prosecuted Somali pirates who had seized an American container ship in the Indian Ocean, and an Al Qaeda terrorist.

He joined the Port Authority in 2016 following the forced retirement of their longtime general counsel.   He also served as acting inspector general.

Farbiarz is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School.  He served as a law clerk  to U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mukasey in the Southern District of New York, to Judge José Cabranes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  A former senior fellow at New York University Law School, he was also in private practice with a top New York law firm, Davis Polk & Wardell.

The 56-year-old Kirsch has served as a Superior Court Judge in Union County since 2010.  He is a Republican from Westfield, the same municipality that produced the newest associate justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, Douglas Fasciale.

A Fordham Law School graduate, Kirsch was nominated to the bench by Gov. Chris Christie and received tenure in 2017.  After stints in the Family and Civil Divisions, he’s been assigned to the Criminal Court since 2016.

Prior to being named to the bench, Kirsch served as an assistant U.S. Attorney in New Jersey for more tahn twelve years.  He was a trial attorney at the U.S. Departement of Justice in Washington from 1993 to 1997, and was a law clerk for Judge William Zloch on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida from 1991 to 1993.

Farbiarz and Kirsch will be the seventh and eighth federal judge nominated by Biden out of New Jersey after a four-year period where Donald Trump filled no seats.

Their nominations will now head to the U.S. Senate Judiciary,  the first step of the confirmation process.

Biden nominated Farbiarz at the recommendation of U.S. Senator Cory Booker, while the state’ senior senator, Bob Menendez, asked for Kirsch to be picked.  Menendez and Booker work together on nominations, so that no judicial candidate from New Jersey is sent to the White House without the backing of both senators.

“Michael E. Farbiarz and Judge Robert Kirsch are highly qualified nominees who bring a strong commitment to justice, fairness, and the law to the federal bench,” Booker said.  “They have both had distinguished legal careers and years of dedication to public service. I am confident in their ability to administer fair and impartial justice to the people of New Jersey and our country. I want to thank President Biden for nominating them, and I look forward to their hearing before the Judiciary Committee and their confirmations by the Senate.

Menendez praised Biden for picking “two exceptional and uniquely qualified individuals to serve on the U.S. District Court.

“Their experience, dedication to justice, and strong values are certain to serve the people of New Jersey well,” said Menendez.  “For the past two years, we have been working diligently to fill the many vacancies on New Jersey’s District Courts and today’s nominations mean that the people of New Jersey can have confidence knowing that their judiciary is not only complete, but reflective of the diversity and values of our residents.”

Gov. Phil Murphy said that Farbiarz and Kirsch “each possess decades of legal experience and will no doubt serve the people of New Jersey well once confirmed to the federal bench.”

“I commend President Biden for continuing to fill vacancies on New Jersey’s federal court with well qualified candidates and applaud Senators Menendez and Booker for their continued support,” stated Murphy.

This story was updated with comment from Booker, Menendez and Murphy. 

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