Justice Helen E. Hoens. photo via NJ Courts website
Governor Christie announced the nomination of Judge Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina to replace Justice Helen Hoens on the State Supreme Court during a press conference at the State House this afternoon.
Hoens, who was up for reappointment after seven years, will not be re-nominated, Christie said, because State Senator Ray Lesniak, a senior Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently said that Hoens would not be reconfirmed as political retribution for Christie not re-nominating Justice John Wallace in 2010. Christie said that Hoens took the news as a professional and thanked him for not putting her through an arduous and fruitless re-confirmation hearing. Hoen’s term expires in late October.
There are currently two vacancies, of seven positions, on the State Supreme Court. Christie nominated Monmouth County Judge David F. Bauman and Board of Public Utilities President Robert Hanna to fill those vacancies in December of last year. The Democratically controlled State Senate has not acted on their nominations, despite the fact that both men have been previously confirmed by the Senate for their current positions.
If all three of Christie’s current nominees are confirmed, a majority of the Court, 4 Justices, will be Christie appointees. Justice Anne M. Patterson was nominated by Christie in May of 2010. She was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in 19 months later in September of 2011.
Judge Fernandez-Vina, a Cuban-American and a Republican, was first nominated to the Superior Court in Camden County by Governor Jim McGreevey in 2004. He was re-nominated by Christie an reconfirmed by the Senate in 2011. In 2012, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, a Corzine appointee, named Fernandez-Vina the Assignment Judge of the Camden County Vicinage.
Posted: August 12th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Chris Christie, NJ Courts, NJ Judiciary, NJ Supreme Court | Tags: Chris Christie, Judge David Bauman, Judge Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina, Justice Helen Hoens, NJ Supreme Court, Robert Hanna, Senator Ray Lesniak | 2 Comments »
The Star Ledger is reporting that Joe Oxley’s nomination to the New Jersey Superior Court is in jeopardy because the U.S. Justice Department will not release FBI files from the investigation into the former sheriff resulting from Solomon Dwek’s allegations.
Dwek accused Oxley of sharing information about foreclosures before such information became public, thereby giving the real estate swindler a leg up to acquire those properties. No wrong doing was discovered during the FBI investigation which included recording Oxley.
State Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), a member of the judiciary committee that screens judicial nominations, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the Oxley files after The Star Ledger reported there existence last June. The FBI declined the request, citing Oxley’s privacy. Oxley did not respond to Lesniak’s request that he authorize the release of the files. The Justice Department declined Lesniak’s appeal if the initial rejection.
State Senator Nicolas Scutari, chairman the the senate judiciary committee, was non-commital about Oxley’s nomination:
“I wouldn’t say it’s absolutely over, but I would say that’s certainly a piece of information that we’d like and it does jeopardize it to some degree,” he said. “I don’t think Senator Lesniak is wrong in requesting that information.”
Oxley declined to comment and referred questions to Governor Christie’s office.
Oxley, an attorney in private practice, could have numerous legitimate reasons, including attorney-client privilege, for declining to authorize the release of his recorded conversations.
Posted: October 23rd, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Joe Oxley, Monmouth County Court, NJ Courts, NJ Judiciary, NJ State Legislature | Tags: Joe Oxley, Senator Ray Lesniak | 4 Comments »
Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter E. Warshaw, Jr was nominated by Governor Chris Christie to become a Superior Court Judge on June 14. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold his confirmation hearing today. He is likely to be confirmed by the full Senate before the end of the week, ending his 18 month tenure as county prosecutor.
First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni is expected to be nominated to replace Warshaw as the chief prosecutor in Monmouth County. Word in the legal community is that Gramiccioni, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney under Christie, was the governor’s first choice to become Monmouth County Prosecutor in 2010 but that he was 18 months short of the residency requirements.
Former Monmouth County Sheriff Joe Oxley, also former Monmouth GOP Chairman, was nominated to the Court on May 14. Oxley’s confirmation has yet to be scheduled by the Democratically controlled Judiciary Committee, due in part to a Star Ledger report that federal informant Soloman Dwek accused Oxley, Senator Joe Kyrillos and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin of trading favors for campaign contributions.
Dwek’s allegations were revealed in discovery documents in the civil case of former Hudson County Assemblyman Louis Manzo who unsuccessly sued the U.S. Attorney’s office to recover $100K in legal fees that resulted Manzo’s 2009 Operation Bid Rig indictments. Manzo was accused under the Hobbs Act of accepting bribes from Dwek in exchange for future help in zoning and permit applications should Manzo be elected Jersey City Mayor. Manzo was running for Mayor for the fifth time when the alleged bribe occurred. Federal Judge Jose Linares threw out the charges on the basis that the Hobbs Act applied only to elected officials, not candidates. The Appellate Court affirmed Linares’ ruling.
The discovery documents in Manzo’s civil case miraculously found their way to the Star Ledger in what Kyrillos called an “oppo (opposition research) dump” by U. S. Senator Robert Menedez’s reelection campaign. Kyrillos is the GOP nominee to unseat Menendez and a minority member of the State Senate Judiciary Committee which reviews judicial nominations.
Expect the Judiciary Committee to schedule Oxley’s confirmation hearing in September or October as the general election campaign is heating up. Democratic Senator Ray Lesniak has called for Dwek, who is in federal prison, to testify at Oxley’s hearing. That would put Kyrillos, as a member of the committee and also accused by Dwek of trading favors for contributions, in a hot seat at the height of the U.S. Senate campaign.
In another potential twist in this tangled web, Gramiccioni was one of the federal prosecutors working on the Bid Rig investigations, including Manzo’s, according to Bob Ingle and Michael Symons in Chris Christie: The Inside Story Of His Rise To Power (page 90). Should Gramiccioni be nominated Monmouth County Prosecutor, as expected, his nomination will also be subject to a Judiciary Committee hearing.
Gramiccioni’s wife, Deborah, is Governor Christie’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Cabinet Liason.
Posted: June 25th, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Monmouth County, Monmouth County Court, Monmouth County Prosecutor, NJ Courts, NJ Judiciary, NJ State Legislature | Tags: Christopher Gramiccioni, Deborah Gramiccioni, Governor Chris Christie, Joe Kyrillos, Joe Oxley, NJ Senate Judiciary Committee, Peter Warshaw, Robert Menendez, Senator Ray Lesniak, Solomon Dwek, Star Ledger | 5 Comments »