The GSBA provides opportunities for new attorneys and experienced attorneys to collectively tackle challenges that improve the lives of minorities Statewide.
GSBA Statement on the New Jersey Judicial Nomination Process
TRENTON, March 21, 2016 -- Since Gov. Chris Christie’s 2010 decision to not re-nominate New Jersey Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace, the New Jersey Superior Court Judge nomination process, as well as the ability of superior court judges throughout the state to efficiently resolve disputes and ensure the administration of justice without undue delay, has been in a stalemate. The citizens of New Jersey have a fundamental right to equal access to the courthouse and to have the administration of justice without unreasonable delay. However, due to the failed leadership of our executive and legislative branches, there remains numerous judicial vacancies throughout the state, leaving New Jersey’s citizens—particularly those citizens who live in areas with higher racial/ethnic minority populations—underserved.
This impasse is the result of a carefully considered decision made with knowledge of its intended and unintended consequences, which include a disproportionate number of judicial vacancies in counties with the highest population of minorities. Specifically, the inaction by leadership has left Essex County with 9 judicial vacancies, Mercer County with 7 judicial vacancies, Camden County with 4 judicial vacancies, and Hudson County with 4 judicial vacancies. In contrast, counties with fewer minorities, like Sussex, Warren, Morris, Hunterdon, and Bergen Counties, combined, have a total of 3 judicial vacancies. Stated simply, minority communities have been intentionally targeted to feel the brunt of a much slower, and far less efficient, judicial system—to serve as political pawns. These underserved communities face additional challenges in a system that has historically been perceived to not serve their interests. Regardless of intent, the consequences of this impasse have a disparate impact on communities of color. While the injustice faced by these minority communities is blatantly apparent, and is a disgrace and disservice to the New Jersey’s justice system, the current administration has done nothing to address the outstanding number of judicial vacancies in minority communities.
The Garden State Bar Association (“GSBA”), an affiliate of the National Bar Association, is New Jersey's oldest and largest professional organization for African-American judges, lawyers and law students. The GSBA continues to function primarily for the purpose of enhancing, improving and mainstreaming the status of the African American attorney as well as all minority attorneys in the State of New Jersey. The GSBA also serves the communities in which its attorneys live and work. The GSBA has a vested interest in seeing that justice is done for the underserved and underrepresented.
While the GSBA takes no position on Gov. Christie’s recent nomination of Judge Bauman to fill the New Jersey Supreme Court left vacant by Gov. Christie’s refusal to re-nominate New Jersey’s only then-sitting African American Supreme Court Justice, the GSBA strongly urges Gov. Christie to immediately fulfil his duties as set forth in the New Jersey Constitution by nominating judges to the Superior Court bench to fill the vacancies that exist in New Jersey’s urban communities. What is more, the GSBA strongly urges that Gov. Christie nominate qualified African American and minority judges to fill those positions. Concomitantly, provided that Gov. Christie fulfills his Constitutional duty to nominate candidates for all existing Superior Court vacancies, the GSBA encourages the New Jersey legislature to consider the qualifications of each candidate, including Judge Bauman, by conducting hearings, and where appropriate, giving its advice and consent as to each nominee. New Jersey’s citizens, particularly its underrepresented and underserved citizens, deserve equal access to the judicial system and deserve to not be used as undervalued instruments of a political game.
Steve Garry Hockaday
President, Garden State Bar Association
John P. Kahn,
Immediate Past President, Garden State Bar Association