Jessica M. Karmasek Oct. 22, 2013, 4:45pm

TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) -- One of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's state Supreme Court nominees passed a Senate panel last week.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously in favor of Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina to the state's high court, according to the Daily Record.

The judge's nomination advanced despite what the newspaper described as a "bit of hazing."

Christie, whose previous attempts to fill the vacant seats on the state's high court have failed, nominated Fernandez-Vina in August.

The Cuban-born Republican has served as a judge on the New Jersey Superior Court since July 2004.

"In the words of the late Sen. John Adler, Judge Fernandez-Vina had 'the highest level of competence and he's just the total package,'" Christie said in August.

"Last year Chief Justice (Stuart) Rabner named Judge Fernandez-Vina the assignment judge of the Camden Vicinage. At that time, the chief justice said the following, 'Judge Fernandez-Vina brings to the position of assignment judge a wealth of experience, a proven, practical approach to addressing issues, superb judgment and the respect of the bench and bar.' Those are his words not mine."

Christie said he couldn't agree more.

"Beyond his time in public life Judge Fernandez-Vina had 22 years of private sector legal experience where he tried in excess of 100 cases and was a certified civil trial attorney certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court," the governor said, noting the judge's "deep roots" in the state.

Fernandez-Vina's nomination now heads to the full Senate, with a possible vote Nov. 25.

Hearings still have not been set for Christie's two other nominees to the high court, Robert Hanna and David Bauman.

Christie nominated Hanna, president of the state Board of Public Utilities and an Independent, and Bauman, a Monmouth County Superior Court judge and a Republican, in December 2012.

As noted by the Daily Record, there will be three vacancies among the high court's seven seats by the end of the week.

Justice Helen Hoens' term is set to expire Saturday. Christie did not renominate Hoens, who Fernandez-Vina would replace if confirmed.

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