President Joe Biden picked Brown & Connery partner Christine O’Hearn to be a federal judge in the District of New Jersey, as the state faces a legal backlog from lack of federal judges in recent years.
Six of the state’s 17 judge positions remain vacant, with none having been filled during President Donald Trump’s time in office.
“New Jersey’s six district court vacancies are second only to California’s and have been declared a ‘judicial emergency’,” reads an April 29 joint statement from the offices of U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, both Democrats. “Six years of Republican obstructionism both in the Senate and White House have allowed those vacancies to go unfilled and the judicial emergency to fester.”
Biden tapped two other New Jersey lawyers last month: longtime Bergen County counsel Julien X. Neals and U.S. Magistrate Zahid N. Quraishi.
O’Hearn boasts three decades of legal experience at Brown & Connery, where she became a partner in 1992. There, she’s worked as a trial lawyer focusing on labor, employer and complex civil litigation.
“Christine O’Hearn is a highly successful and regarded trial attorney with the intellect, thoughtfulness and temperament needed to be a brilliant federal judge,” reads a statement from Menendez.
Booker described her as a “talented, experienced, and distinguished litigator who will serve honorably as a federal judge.”
“O’Hearn has demonstrated a deep commitment to justice and an appreciation for the impact that our courts have on the people of our state,” he continued.
The law firm has been used by South Jersey political power broker George Norcross over the years, including during the 2019 state probe into hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate tax breaks awarded to several companies connected to him.