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Rabat Babar. (Photo: Office of the Attorney General).

Murphy names 15 new judges with huge number of minority nominees

Rahat Babar would become first Bangladeshi-American on Superior Court; Kahf would be first Muslim woman to wear hijab on bench

By David Wildstein, February 28 2022 3:23 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy will file 15 judicial nominations on Monday, including the first Bangladeshi-American and the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab on the bench to serve as Superior Court Judges in New Jersey as part of a package that includes a majority of minority judicial candidates.

Rahat N. Babar, a former deputy attorney general who oversees all high-profile litigation for the Governor’s office, will be nominated to a seat in Mercer County.  Babar served as a special assistant to Attorney General Christopher Porrino and as Director of Community Engagement under Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.  He’s also a former adjunct professor at Temple University Beasley School of law and as a law clerk  to Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Myron Steele.

Nadia Khaf. (Photo: CAIR-NJ).

Nadia Kahf practices immigration law in Haledon and would sit in Passaic County.  She is the chairwoman of CAIR-NJ board, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, and has served on the board since 2003.. She is the legal advisor to Wafa House, a Passaic County-based non-profit domestic violence agency.

Supti Bhattacharya, who manages the family law practice at Hill Wallack, chairs the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, and is a South Asian Bar Association of New Jersey trustee.  Bhattacharya was a law clerk to Superior Court Judge Michelle C. Hollar-Gregory.

Sherry Wilson, the deputy director of the New Jersey State Ethics Commission, is a former deputy attorney general where she was involved in the prosecution of Operation PharmaScam.  She is the vice president of the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey and clerked for Appellate Judge Michael Patrick King.

Jodi Bouer, the wife of Paul Josephson, a politically influential lawyer and a former chief counsel to Gov. James E. McGreevey, was nominated to the Superior Court.  She is a leading autism advocate for families and providers across the U.S. and has worked with Autism NJ.

The director and chief judge of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Court, Russell Wojtenko, has also been nominated to the Superior Court.

Bhattacharya, Wilson,  Bauer, and Wojtenko were all nominated for Mercer County seats.

Also named to the Superior Court:

* Michelle Perry-Thompson, named to an Atlantic County seat, is a deputy attorney general and the assistant chief of the Department of Children and Families South Jersey section.

* James Bucci is a partner at Genova Burns, one of the state’s most politically influential law firms, and served as a member of the Haddonfield Planning Board.

* José Vilariño is a law partner of State Sen. Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) and has been named to a seat in Hudson County.  A personal injury lawyer, Vilariño clerked for Superior Court Judge Ramona Santiago.

* Arvin Aithal is a law partner of State Sen. Bob Smith (D-Piscataway) and the Middlesex Borough Attorney.

* Stevie Darrel Chambers serves in the Jersey City Corporation Counsel’s office under Mayor Steven Fulop.

* James Fattorini has served as a municipal prosecutor for multiple municipalities in Burlington County.

* Gregg Rubenstein is a family law attorney from East Brunswick.

* Gary Potters, also nominated for a Hudson seat, is a partner at a North Jersey law firm and had been active in the New Jersey State Bar Association.

Murphy has also nominated Tanya Phillips, a former Mercer County Bar Association president and a partner at Gaylord Popp in Trenton, as a judge of the Workers’ Compensation Court.

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