New Jersey Supreme Court
|New Jersey Supreme Court|
|Location:||Trenton, New Jersey|
|Method:||Gubernatorial appointment of judges|
|Term:||7 years; until age 70|
|Justice Jaynee LaVecchia||2000-2024|
|Justice Barry Albin||2002-2022||Gov. Jon Corzine|
|Chief Justice Stuart Rabner||2007-Present||Gov. Jon Corzine|
|Justice Anne Patterson (New Jersey)||2011-2018||Gov. Chris Christie|
|Presiding Judge; Temporary Justice Mary Cuff||1994-2017; 2012-Present|
|Temporary Justice Ariel Rodriguez||2012-Present|
|Justice Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina||2014-2020||Gov. Chris Christie|
|Justice Lee A. Solomon||2014-2021|
The court is composed of six justices and one chief justice. Justices of the New Jersey Supreme Court are nominated by the governor of the state. One week after the public notice issued by the governor, the nominees must pass the "advice and consent" of the New Jersey State Senate. After seven years of service on the bench, the governor may then determine whether to tenure the justice. Justices are selected to complete the partisan balance; the governor has the opportunity to appoint justices to have a one-seat advantage, but may go no further than that.
According to Article VI, Section VI of the New Jersey Constitution, "The justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of the Superior Court shall each prior to his appointment have been admitted to the practice of law in this State for at least 10 years."
The chief justice of the court is also appointed by the governor, and is considered the administrative head of the state judiciary.
Past chief justices
The following individuals have served as chief justice:
- 1779-1789: David Brearley
- 1789-1803: James Kinsey
- 1804-1825: Andrew Kirkpatrick
- 1824-1832: Charles Ewing
- 1901-1933: William Stryker Gummere
- 1933-1946: Thomas Brogan
- 1946-1948: Clarence Case
- 1948-1957: Arthur Vanderbilt
- 1957-1973: Joseph Weintraub
- 1973-1973: Pierre Garven
- 1973-1979: Richard Hughes
- 1979-1996: Robert Wilentz
- 1996-2006: Deborah Poritz
- 2006-2007: James Zazzali
- 2007-Present: Stuart Rabner
The New Jersey Supreme Court is an appellate court with no original jurisdiction. The court may hear appeals if the case involves a constitutional question, if a judge in the appellate division dissented, if capital punishment is used, if the court granted "certification," or if the case involves redistricting. The court also has administrative power over the state's courts and attorneys.
If the New Jersey Redistricting Commission does not agree on the manner of redistricting Congressional districts in New Jersey, the New Jersey Supreme Court finalizes the decision.
- The New Jersey Judiciary has not provided disposition statistics for the years 2010 or 2012 in its annual reports, nor has it provided any caseload data for 2013 or 2014 years.
In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of New Jersey was given a campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, New Jersey received a score of 0.05. Based on the justices selected, New Jersey was the 23rd most conservative court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.
In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. New Jersey earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.
Removal of justices
To remove a judge, the court may notify the governor of "incapacitation," which then must be determined by a three person commission. A justice may also be impeached by the New Jersey General Assembly and tried by the New Jersey State Senate.
The state created a constitution in 1776, which included the "Court of Appeals," the then court of last resort. The supreme court was mentioned, however, nothing was written on it other than seven-year term limits for its justices.
After complaints of the prior Constitution of 1776, in 1844, the state created a new constitution, continuing the "non-supreme Supreme Court." The New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals replaced the previous court of appeals. The primary difference between this new court and the previous court is that judges were no longer legislators. Instead, the court became nonpartisan and did not intertwine with the other branches of government.
|• Warrant requirement is retroactive (2015)||Click for summary→|
|In 2013, The United States Supreme Court ruled in Missouri v. McNeely that the dissipation of alcohol in suspected drunk driver's blood is not an automatic exigent circumstance. If it were, then police would not have to obtain a warrant to take the suspect's blood. Timothy Adkins ran his car into a utility pole in 2010. He was injured, as were his passengers. Police on the scene suspected Adkins of being intoxicated. Police claimed they did not need a warrant to require Adkins to submit to a blood draw, and they took his blood. It returned a .157 blood alcohol level. Adkins was charged with DWI among several other things. After the Supreme Court ruling e filed a pre-trial motion to suppress the results of the blood draw claiming police should have been required to obtain a warrant. The trial court agreed with Adkins and suppressed the results. The prosecutor appealed, and it reached the New Jersey Supreme Court in May 2015.
Justice Jaynee LaVecchia wrote the opinion for the court, which found the rule from McNeely applies in New Jersey—and retroactively in some cases, as well. LaVecchia stated that the state supreme court had to follow the rule from McNeely, but trial courts could give "substantial weight" to any probable cause the police could point towards. In Adkins' case, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the trial court to determine if the police had probable cause to take his blood.
- New Jersey
- New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division
- New Jersey judicial news
- New Jersey blogs
- News: NJ Supreme Court fastracks pension lawsuit, November 28, 2011
- News: Seats shuffling on New Jersey Supreme Court, June 13, 2011
- New Jersey Courts, "Supreme Court Justices' Biographies"
- USA Today, "New Jersey court to allow same-sex marriages," October 18, 2013
- Courier Post, "Man who admitted robbing Deptford bank due to be freed," November 21, 2013
- New Jersey Courts, "Supreme Court of New Jersey," accessed January 29, 2015
- Wikisource, "New Jersey Constitution of 1947," accessed May 4, 2015
- National Archives and Records Administration, "The Founding Fathers: New Jersey," accessed November 27, 2007
- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, "James Kinsey," accessed August 15, 2007
- The New Jersey Historical Society, "Manuscript Group 283, Ewing Family (Trenton, NJ)," accessed January 9, 2007
- New Jersey Judiciary, "2011-2012 Annual Report," accessed May 4, 2015
- New Jersey Judiciary, "2010-2011 Annual Report," accessed May 4, 2015
- New Jersey Judiciary, "2009-2010 Annual Report," accessed May 4, 2015
- New Jersey Judiciary, "2008-2009 Annual Report," accessed May 4, 2015
- New Jersey Judiciary, "2007-2008 Annual Report," accessed May 4, 2015
- Stanford University, "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012
- Center for Public Integrity, "State supreme court judges reveal scant financial information," December 5, 2013
- NJ.com, "U.S. Supreme Court ruling on blood tests in DWI cases must apply to some past cases in N.J., high court says," May 6, 2015
|Former||William Brennan (U.S. Supreme Court) • Virginia Long • John Wallace (New Jersey) • Roberto Rivera-Soto • Helen Hoens • Mahlon Pitney • Dorothea Wefing • Richard L. Clifford •|