Recently retired New Jersey Supreme Court Associate Justice Faustino Fernandez-Vina has joined the law firm Parker McCay in Mount Laurel as of counsel in the firm’s litigation practice.
Fernandez-Vina retired after nearly a decade on the state’s highest court on Feb. 15 upon reaching 70 years old, the state’s mandatory retirement age. As of March 1, he continues his legal career off the bench out of Parker McCay’s Mount Laurel and Camden offices.
Fernandez-Vina will also lead the firm’s Ethic and Conflict committee.
“Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina is a pillar of New Jersey’s legal and professional community and is a titan in New Jersey legal practice. I am proud to have this sharp analytical mind and former jurist join our growing team because he represents the best America has to offer and is the epitome of resilience, intelligence and grit,” said CEO Philip Norcross. “Fuzzy was a political refugee from Cuba during the Castro era and worked his way up to the apex of the legal world in our state by serving for more than nine years on New Jersey’s highest court. In short, Fuzzy is the American dream personified and we are overjoyed that he will be joining us.”
Fernandez-Vina was born in Cuba in 1952 and escaped persecution by the Castro regime with his family as a young boy. The family settled in South Jersey, where he later attended and played football at Haddon Heights High School. He was then co-captain of the football team at Widener University in Chester, Pa., playing alongside running back and NFL Hall of Fame inductee Billy “White Shoes” Johnson and NFL all-pro center Joseph Fields. He came back to New Jersey after graduating with a history degree to attend Rutgers University School of Law-Camden. Fernandez-Vina graduated in 1978, and prior to entering private practice served as a law clerk to Superior Court Judge E. Stevenson Fluharty.
While in private practice, Fernandez-Vina became a certified civil trial attorney and served on the District IV Ethics Committee, the Supreme Court Committee on Character and the Supreme Court Committee on Jury Selection.
He was appointed to the Superior Court bench by then Gov. James McGreevey in 2004 and was the first Latino nominated to the Superior Court from Camden County. He moved to the family division in 2006, was named presiding judge of the civil division in 2007, and named assignment judge of the Camden Vicinage in 2012.
Fernandez-Vina was nominated to the Supreme Court by Gov. Chris Christie on Sept. 30, 2013, and sworn into office on Nov. 19, 2013, following his confirmation by the state Senate.
He became the first and only Hispanic member of the Court. At the time of his confirmation Christie said, “[w]ith his extensive experience in both the private and public sector, Judge Fernandez-Vina is eminently qualified to serve on New Jersey’s Supreme Court, and has earned bipartisan support from leaders on both sides of the aisle.”
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner announced Feb. 16 that he won’t appoint a temporary member to the Supreme Court and will instead wait for Murphy to nominate a replacement. Rabner appointed a temporary member to fill the seat of former Associate Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, who announced her retirement last spring.
“Since the adoption of the 1947 Constitution, Governors have abided by the tradition that no more than four members of the Supreme Court can be affiliated with a single political party,” Rabner said. “In keeping with that valued tradition, I am not assigning an additional member of the Appellate Division to fill the vacancy created by Justice Fernandez-Vina’s mandatory retirement.”
Parker McCay shareholder Steve Goodell, who is based out of the firm’s Hamilton office, said of Fernandez-Vina’s new role: “Justice Fernandez-Vina’s journey is remarkable. He has confronted and overcome real obstacles. I know what that’s like, and I’m thrilled he will be able to share his energy and his wisdom with our team and our clients.”
Fernandez-Vina is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, and Camden County and Burlington County Bar associations. He has been a member of the executive committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association, Civil Trial Bar Section and served as chair of the committee from 2001 to 2003.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8:22 a.m. EST on March 1, 2022, to include additional details about Faustino Fernandez-Vina’s role at Parker McCay.