A vital step toward resolving a judicial crisis in Mercer County was taken by the N.J. Senate on Nov. 14 when it confirmed seven judges to fill all remaining Superior Court vacancies and also approved the nominations of two other judicial vacancies.
Additionally, Gov. Chris Christie nominated another nine attorneys to the Superior Court bench. If those nine nominees are ultimately confirmed, the state's vacancy rate will drop to 21 open positions out of 443 approved seats.
Mercer County, which is assigned 17 judges, currently has 10. Following the Senate's action on Nov. 14, it will have a full complement. Before the confirmations, the county had the highest vacancy rate in the state.
The new judges for Mercer are Assistant Attorney General Ronald Susswein of Ewing, Robert Bingham II of Ewing, Joseph Hughes of West Trenton, R. Brian McLaughlin of Lawrence, Rodney Thompson of Ewing, Kay Walcott-Henderson of Pennington and Thomas Walls Jr. of Hamilton.
The other new judges are Andrea Bazer of Ocean Township, who will be assigned to Ocean County and Owen McCarthy of Manasquan.
The lawyers nominated by Christie on Nov. 10 include three each for Bergen County and Essex County and one each for Monmouth, Morris and Somerset counties.
The nominees for Bergen County are Darren DiBiasi of Glen Rock; Joseph Monaghan of Harrington Park and John O'Dwyer of Waldwick. The Essex nominees are Keith Lynott of Maplewood; Sharifa Salaam of West Orange and Christopher Romanyshyn of Verona. The other nominees are Jodi Lee Alper of Basking Ridge in Somerset, Patrick Bartells of Allentown in Monmouth and Arthur Batista of Gillette in Morris.
The most recent nominees must be vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee and approved by the full Senate.