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New Jersey Superior Court Judge-designate Dalya Youssef. (Photo: Dalya Youssef).

Murphy picks three Superior Court nominees in Somerset County

Senate confirmation of Youssef, Ree and Kolodzieski would reduce judicial vacancies from 5 to 2

By David Wildstein, February 09 2023 4:30 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy took steps today to fill three vacant Superior Court judgeships in Somerset County, which could cause Chief Justice Stuart Rabner to lift his suspension of civil and matrimonial trials there.

Murphy has notified the Senate that he intends to nominate Dalya Youssef, Wendy Reek, and Frank Kolodzieski,  to the bench.

Youffef, 48 and a Democrat, is the supervising attorney at Central Jersey Legal Services and spent seven years as a solo practitioner.  Youssef serves on the board of the Rutgers University Center for Security, Race and Rights, and was the president of the New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association in 2020 and 2021.

Reek, a partner at a Central Jersey law firm, Leary, Bride, Mergner & Bongiovanni, is a former deputy attorney general assigned to represent the New Jersey State Police on civil rights and employment issues.  A 57-year-old Republican who lives in Mercer County, she is a former president of the Middlesex County Trial Lawyers Association and a member of the Hispanic Bar Association.

Frank Kolodzieski, 61, is a career assistant Somerset County prosecutor and a Republican.

State Sen. Robert Smith (D-Piscataway) has senatorial courtesy over Youssef, State Sen.  Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence) must sign off on Reek, and State Sen. Douglas Steinhardt (R-Lopatcong) needs to approve Kolodzieski.

In Vicinage 13, which includes Hunterdon, Somerset, and Warren counties, there are five judicial vacancies out of 20 seats on the court.  Youssef, Reek, and Kolodzieski appear headed toward a speedy confirmation.

Rabner’s order also applies to a South Jersey vicinage that includes Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties.

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