Christie picks two for N.J. Supreme Court

John O'Brien Jan. 23, 2012, 12:33pm


TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has made his choices to fill the state's two open spots on the state supreme court, though neither pick has ever worked as a judge before.

Christie announced Monday that he is nominating Chatham Mayor Bruce Harris and Assistant Attorney General Philip Kwon. The two would fill spots left open by Justice Virginia Long's coming mandatory retirement and Christie's decision not to renominate former Justice John Wallace.

Christie called the nominations historic because Kwon would become the first Asian-American on the court, while Harris would be the third African-American and first openly gay member of the court. His picks must be confirmed by the state Senate.

"I am proud to be nominating two legal professionals who not only have a passion for this state and a dedication to the legal system, but also capture New Jersey's great diversity," Christie said.

Harris most recently worked at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig and has focused on issues of public finance and commercial lending since graduating from Yale Law School.

Kwon has also worked in the U.S. Attorney's Office and graduated from Rutgers Law School.

Christie's decision not to renominate Wallace was a controversial one, and Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney refused to consider Anne Patterson, Christie's choice to replace Wallace. However, Patterson was confirmed to take the place of the retiring Roberto Rivera-Soto, leaving Wallace's former seat still open.

Sweeney said in May that he hoped Christie would keep racial diversity in mind when making the picks. He said he will move the voting process for the nominations along quickly.

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