Gov. Phil Murphy will nominate Fabiana Pierre-Louis as the first black woman to serve on the New Jersey Supreme Court, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
If confirmed by the State Senate, Pierre-Louis would replace Associate Justice Walter Timpone, who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 on November 10.
She would also become the first black to serve on the New Jersey Supreme Court since 2010 when Gov. Chris Christie declined to renominate Associate Justice John Wallace for a tenured term.
Pierre-Louis began her legal career as a law clerk for Justice Wallace.
Murphy’s nomination would bring the gender balance of the Supreme Court from five men and two women to four men and three women.
The Mount Laurel resident would also give South Jersey three of the seven seats on the court.
Pierre-Louis spent nine years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey and headed the federal prosecutor’s Camden and Trenton offices. She also worked in the General Crimes and Organized Crime and Gang unit.
She is currently a partner at Montgomery McCracken.
At age 39, Pierre-Louis could potentially serve on the state’s top court for the next 31 years.
She would also become the first Haitian-American to serve on the Supreme Court in New Jersey.
She is a graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick and earned her law degree from Rutgers Law School, magna cum laude. She was a Governor’s Executive Fellow at the Eagleton Institute for Politics and volunteered on the Rutgers Domestic Violence Project.
At Rutgers, she was the vice president of the Black Law Students Association.
At Montgomery McCracken, Pierre-Louis is part of the firm’s white collar and government investigations practice group. According to the firm’s website, her private practice has focused on complex commercial litigation, white collar crime, and government investigations.
In 2018, Murphy renominated one of Christie’s picks, Anne Patterson, for a tenured term. Another Christie-appointed justice, Faustino Fernandez-Vina, is up for tenure nine days after Timpone retires, and a third, Lee Solomon, finishes his initial seven-year term in June 2021.
Patterson, Fernandez-Vina, known as Fuzzy, and Solomon are Republicans.
If he wins re-election to a second term in 2021, Murphy will have an opportunity to completely make over the New Jersey Supreme Court. Justices Barry Albin, appointed by James E. McGreevey, and Fernandez-Vina and will reach the mandatory retirement age in 2022. Jayne LaVecchia, named by Christine Todd Whitman, and Solomon turn 70 in 2024.
The New Jersey Globe first speculated more than a year ago that Murphy was likely to nominate a black woman to replace Timpone.