The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced three nominees to the Superior Court today, representing another small step towards addressing the state’s large number of judicial vacancies; two county prosecutor nominees were also cleared by the committee.
The three Superior Court nominees – Robert Lytle, Steven Scheffler, and Christopher Troxell – were all referred to the committee within the last month, and all passed unanimously. They’re near-certain to officially join the bench once the Senate has a full voting session next week.
But with dozens of other judicial seats vacant around the state, there’s not much time left to make significant progress before the legislature begins its summer recess at the end of next week. There are still 16 nominees to the Superior Court, as well as one nominee to be a Workers’ Compensation judge and three to be Administrative Law judges, who haven’t yet been interviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has no further meetings scheduled this month (though that could very well change).
And there are still two, soon to be three, Supreme Court seats that remain vacant. Justice Jaynee LaVecchia left the court last December, Justice Faustino Fernandez-Vina hit the mandatory retirement age in February, and Justice Barry Albin will reach that same age in just over two weeks – but only one of the three seats even has a nominee in place.
As for the two prosecutor nominations, LaChia Bradshaw was approved to be Burlington County Prosecutor and current Superior Court Judge John McDonald was approved to be Somerset County Prosecutor, both unanimously.
Assuming they’re eventually confirmed by the full Senate, Bradshaw will succeed Scott Coffina and McDonald will succeed Michael Robertson, both Christie appointees who chose not to seek another term this year. Bradshaw would be the first woman and first person of color to hold her office.
Three other county prosecutor nominees remain outstanding: Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae, who was nominated for another term; acting Atlantic County Prosecutor William Reynolds, who recently took office after being nominated in May; and acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens, who was first nominated nearly four years ago and has been serving in an acting capacity ever since.
This story was updated at 1:19 p.m. to reflect the fact that William Reynolds has already taken office as acting county prosecutor, and again on June 21 at 9:46 a.m. to include acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens.