N.J. panel quits over justice's booting

John O'Brien Jun. 2, 2010, 7:43pm


TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie continues to face an assault of criticism over his decision not to retain state Supreme Court Justice John Wallace.

The entire Judicial Advisory Panel, tasked with reviewing Superior Court nominees, resigned in protest of the decision, according to nj.com. Instead of reappointing Wallace, Christie has nominated Anne Patterson to replace him.

Eight retired state Supreme Court justices recently asked Christie, a Republican, to reconsider his decision.

The statement was signed by retired state Supreme Court justices Robert Clifford, James Coleman Jr., Marie Garibaldi, Alan Handler, Stewart Pollock, Deborah Poritz, Gary Stein and James Zazzali.

Coleman, Handler, Pollock and Poritz are the four members of the Judicial Advisory Panel.

"You have expressed publicly a profoundly different view of the governor's appointive responsibilities," they wrote to Christie, according to the report.

"This was exemplified by your actions and remarks in refusing to reappoint Justice John Wallace to the Supreme Court, a jurist who indisputably exemplified all of the qualifications for honorable judicial service."

At a May 3 press conference, Christie complimented Wallace's credentials but said that he would be replaced as the court was not interpreting the state constitution strictly enough.

"It is a fulfillment of my promise to turn the court away from its history of using legal precedent to set social and tax policies in our state - a role which belongs squarely with the legislative and executive branches of state government," Christie said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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