Home>Highlight>Judge Geoffrey Gauklin, ex-Hudson prosecutor who challenged Musto, Guarini, dies at 85

Former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Gaulkin. (Photo: Facebook.)

Judge Geoffrey Gauklin, ex-Hudson prosecutor who challenged Musto, Guarini, dies at 85

Respected jurist served on bench from 1973 to 1995, including 14 years as an appellate court judge

By David Wildstein, August 27 2020 2:27 pm

Geoffrey Gaulkin, a former Hudson County prosecutor and New Jersey Superior Court Judge, died on August 24.  He was 85.

Gaulkin, a 32-year-old Republican from Weehawken, was elected to serve as a delegate to the 1966 New Jersey Constitutional Convention.

In 1967, Gaulkin became one of four Republican candidates for State Senate in Hudson County against incumbents William Vincent Musto (D-Union City), Frank J. Guarini (D-Jersey City), Frederick Hauser (D-Hoboken) and William F. Kelly (D-Jersey City).

His running mates were: Norman Roth, who had come within just 56 votes of winning a seat in Congress in 1956 against Rep. Alfred Sieminski (D-Jersey City); Cresenzi W. Castaldo, who had won 21% in a congressional bid against Rep. Cornelius Gallagher (D-Bayonne) in 1964;  and Eugene P. Kenny, who won 21% against Gallagher in 1962.  All four were lawyers.

A first-time candidate, Gaulkin finished eighth in the Senate race.  He finished 77,925 votes behind Musto.

Gov. William T. Cahill nominated Gaulkin to serve as Hudson County prosecutor in 1970. He was Cahill’s second choice after the Democratic senators from Hudson refused to sign off on his pick of Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Young.

Young was part of a group of young federal prosecutors that included Frederick Lacey, Herbert Stern and Jonathan Goldstein.

It wasn’t just the Democrats who balked at Young’s nomination: Hudson GOP Chairman John B. Theurer, a longtime ally of Jersey City Mayor John  V. Kenny, told Cahill that his choice had never been active in GOP politics.

Following his Senate confirmation, he succeeded Prosecutor James Tumulty.

As prosecutor, Gaulkin named the first Black homicide and narcotics squad commander, Robert W. Lee.

Three years later, Cahill named him to serve as a Superior Court Judge.

Gaulkin served on the bench from 1973 until his retirement in 1995.  He spent fourteen years as an appellate court judge.

The Supreme Court recalled Gaulkin to serve in 2009 as a special master reviewing 30 years of eyewitness identification procedures as part of a revamped plan to prevent wrongful convictions based on the testimony of unreliable witnesses.

Gaulkin was a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School.

His father, Edward Gaulkin, had served as Essex County Prosecutor and as a Superior Court Judge.

Gaulkin is survived by his wife, 63 years, Ellen, his daughter, and three grandchildren.  He was predeceased by his son, Zachary, in 2003.

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