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The New Jersey Supreme Court in 2016.

Murphy’s announcement is good news for Fernandez-Vina

Governor pledges to ‘restore the tradition of removing politics’ from Supreme Court tenure process

By David Wildstein, June 05 2020 11:05 am

Gov. Phil Murphy today effectively announced his intention to renominate Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina for another term on the New Jersey Supreme Court when his seat comes up on November 13.

In his announcement that he is nominating Fabiana Pierre-Louis to the state’s top court, Murphy slammed former Gov. Chris Christie for denying tenure to a sitting Justice, John Wallace, in 2010.

“Ten years ago, when Justice Wallace – a justice widely recognized for his fair-minded decision making – was denied tenure, that independence was threatened,” Murphy said. “This administration is committed to returning the Court to its rightful place – independent of politics, where decisions are made based on what is right rather than what is popular or what is needed to secure re-nomination and tenure from any particular governor.”

Murphy’s first Supreme Court pick was the renomination of Associate Justice Anne Patterson for tenure a few months after taking office in 2018.

Patterson, a Republican, had been originally nominated by Christie.

Murphy said today that he was “proud to restore the tradition of removing politics from this process” when he renominated Patterson.  “A tradition I hope will once again endure through future Republican and Democratic administrations.”

If renominated, Fernandez-Vina, a Republican known as Fuzzy, would serve until he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 on February 15, 2022.

Murphy would have an opportunity to totally overhaul the New Jersey Supreme Court if he wins re-election next year.

In addition to Fernandez-Vina, three other justices will turn 70 during the next gubernatorial term: Barry Albin (July 7, 2022); Lee Solomon (August 17, 2024) and Jaynee LaVecchia (October 9, 2024).

LaVecchia was 46 when Gov. Christine Todd Whitman named her to the court in 2000 and Albin was 50 when Gov. James E. McGreevey nominated him in 2002.

Patterson will reach the mandatory retirement age in 2029 – she was 52 when Christie appointed her in 2011 – and Chief Justice Stuart Rabner turns 70 in 2030; he was 47 when Gov. Jon Corzine picked him.

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