Home>Governor>Senate set to approve nearly all of Murphy’s diverse March slate of Superior Court nominees

Superior Court nominee Supti Bhattacharya. (Photo: Hill Wallack LLP).

Senate set to approve nearly all of Murphy’s diverse March slate of Superior Court nominees

Two nominees out of 14, Nadia Kahf Alqudah and James Fattorini, remain in limbo

By Joey Fox, May 17 2022 4:35 pm

In March, Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled a set of 14 nominees to the Superior Court, with the intention of both diversifying the judiciary and addressing the state’s backlog of cases and judicial vacancies. Now, with a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting scheduled for Thursday, all but two are either already confirmed judges or soon will be.

Two of the nominees, Aravind Aithal and Gregg Rubenstein, were confirmed by the Senate on March 24, only a few weeks after they were nominated.

This Thursday, May 19, the Senate Judiciary Committee will interview 10 more: Rahat Babar, Supti Bhattacharya, Jodi Bouer, James Bucci, Stevie Chambers, Michelle Perry-Thompson, Gary Potters, José Vilariño, Sherry Wilson, and Russell Wojtenko. (An eleventh, David Nasta, was nominated separately earlier this month and will also come before the committee on Thursday.)

Technically, the committee could vote against one or more of the nominees. In 2012, the Senate Judiciary Committee infamously voted down Bruce Harris, Gov. Chris Christie’s nominee for the state Supreme Court, due to Harris’ lack of court experience.

But that happened a decade ago; in the modern era of New Jersey politics, if someone makes it to committee at all, that means they’re going to be approved. And assuming every nominee is cleared uncontroversially by the committee, they’ll likely be confirmed by the full Senate at its next voting session.

There are two remaining nominees, Nadia Kahf Alqudah and James Fattorini, from the 14-nominee package who have yet to be scheduled for a committee vote. Alqudah is being held up by her hometown state senator, Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa), but it’s not immediately clear why Fattorini, who has received senatorial signoff, isn’t on the schedule for Thursday.

23 other Superior Court nominees remain in limbo alongside Alqudah and Fattorini, but most were just nominated earlier this month. The two exceptions are Jennifer Critchley and Amy DePaul, two Verona residents nominated in January who are still awaiting senatorial courtesy from State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville) for their confirmation process to begin.

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