Burlington County Commissioner Linda Hynes, fast-tracked for a Superior Court judgeship in the lame duck session, advanced through the Senate Judiciary Committee today alongside six other Superior Court nominees.
All the nominees advanced unanimously save for Heather Taylor, Gov. Phil Murphy’s chief ethics officer, who received nine yes votes and one abstention from State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa). Corrado declined to comment on why she did not vote to advance Taylor.
Hynes, who was first elected to the Burlington County Commission as a Democrat in 2019, said that her fast-tracked nomination was due to the unexpected early retirement of Judge Karen Suter, and that the election of Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton) to the Senate was not a factor.
“I have never heard any conversation about [Senator-elect Stanfield],” Hynes said. “We just wanted to fill the vacancy.”
Had Hynes’ nomination been delayed into the next legislative session, she would have had to get sign off from Stanfield, who would have perhaps been more wary of the elected Democrat’s nomination than soon-to-be-former State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham).
Assuming Hynes is confirmed by the full Senate next week, a number of Burlington County Democrats have established themselves as potential candidates for her seat, which will be chosen at a special election convention; 2021 Assembly nominee Allison Eckel is currently viewed as the frontrunner.
Today’s wave of interviews marks an important step in clearing the state’s judicial backlog, but a large number of non-judicial nominees remain unconfirmed with the lame duck session nearly finished. If those approximately 90 nominees aren’t confirmed before the start of the new session on January 11, they’ll have to be renominated and start the process again – assuming Murphy chooses to renominate them at all.
In addition to Hynes and Taylor, the other five Superior Court nominees who advanced today were former Commissioner of Community Affairs Lori Grifa, former Nutley Mayor Joanne Cocchiola, East Orange Municipal Court Judge MeLinda Hawkins Taylor, former acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill Mayer, and Aldo Russo.