The legal community reacted Monday to an agreement by Gov. Chris Christie and Senate President Steven M. Sweeney (D-West Deptford) to move forward the year-long stalled nomination of Anne Patterson as an associate justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Under the agreement, Christie will formally withdraw Patterson’s nomination and resubmit it for the seat being vacated by Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto. Sweeney agreed to move swiftly to have Patterson’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and an up-or-down vote by the full Senate, before the end of May.
Patterson, 52, is a partner with the Morristown law firm Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti.
Fellow Riker Danzig partner Glenn A. Clark said, “It is great news. We are glad that Anne will finally get a fair opportunity to have her nomination presented, and we think she will be a great candidate for the Supreme Court.”
Marcus Rayner of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance said, “We applaud Governor Christie and Senate President Sweeney for coming together to advance Anne Patterson’s nomination and look forward to a thoughtful hearing on her well-qualified candidacy. A strong and fully-constituted Supreme Court is vital to New Jersey’s business community as important issues decided by the court directly impact the economic competitiveness of the state.”
Patterson has received a rating of “highly qualified” from the New Jersey State Bar Association. She practices primarily in product liability and commercial litigation in state and federal courts. Richard H. Steen, president of the Bar Association, said, “I think that this is wonderful; it has been pending for too long. I’m glad she will be considered by the Senate and I expect she will be confirmed.”
Rutgers School of Law – Camden Professor Robert F. Williams said, “I think it’s a good sign that they were obviously talking and looking for at least a temporary solution. … And it also may bode well for this potential collision over the education financing issue.” Williams noted there has been speculation Christie might defy the court rather than increase funding to New Jersey’s urban schools. “Hopefully, this indicates a little bit of a cooling off — actually a lot of cooling off — between the executive and the Legislature, and I think we can only hope that it signals a little bit of cooling off between the governor and the court, but it’s too early to tell. It’s a good thing for the court and the state.”
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