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Superior Court Judge Scott Rumana, a former assemblyman, mayor of Wayne, and Passaic County Republican Chairman. (Photo: PoliticsNJ).

Senate panel will consider fourteen judges for renomination

It’s been nearly 30 years since a sitting judge failed to get confirmed by N.J. Senate

By David Wildstein, May 16 2023 10:07 am

The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the renominations of fourteen judges completing their initial seven-year terms for tenured positions on the New Jersey Superior Court when they meet on Thursday.

If confirmed by the Senate, the fourteen judges may serve until they reach the mandatory age of 70.

The process is mostly symbolic: it’s been about 30 years since a judge renominated by the governor failed to be confirmed for tenure by the State Senate.

Some judges, including a handful by Gov. Phil Murphy since taking office more than five years ago, have not been renominated.  But once a judge survives gubernatorial review, confirmation becomes a breeze; questions at a confirmation hearing of a sitting judge are rare, and then it typically just praise from senators.

Gov. Jim Florio renominated Superior Court Judge Marianne Espinosa Murphy in 1993, but then-Senate Majority Leader John Dorsey (R-Boonton) used the unwritten rule of senatorial courtesy to block her from getting a confirmation vote.  Dorsey ran out the clock on Espinosa Murphy, but his use of courtesy became one of the issues used against him in his re-election campaign that year, and he was ousted in the solidly Republican Morris County district by a Democrat, Gordon MacInnes (D-Morris Township).

In New Jersey, if a judge isn’t renominated and confirmed before the end of their seventh year on the bench, they must leave immediately; there are no holdover judges.  Gov. Richard Codey put Espinosa Murphy back on the bench in 2005, but she was untenured.  She was renominated in 2012 and served until she turned so in 2017.

Judges Robert Ballard, Robert Bingham, Benjamin Bucca, Henry Butehorn, Francisco Dominguez, Joseph Hughes, Imre Karaszegi, Jr., Andrea Ina Marshall, Owen McCarthy, Brian McLaughlin, Scott Rumana, Haekyoung Suh, Rodney Thompson and Kay Wolcott-Henderson are on the Judiciary Committee agenda.

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