Report: Christie to nominate superior court judge to N.J. SC

Jessica M. Karmasek Jul. 17, 2012, 12:30pm




TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans to nominate a Republican superior court judge to the state's high court, according to a report.

Sources told The Star-Ledger this week that Christie -- who has been highly critical of the Court -- plans to submit Lee Solomon's name. The governor had told an Atlantic City radio station earlier this month that he was close to a decision on a nominee.

Solomon, a Haddonfield resident, served as a superior court judge in Camden County from 2006 to 2010.

Christie then named him head of the state Board of Public Utilities.

In December, Christie reappointed Solomon to the superior court in Camden County, this time to serve in the court's civil division.

He previously served as the Deputy U.S. Attorney for the Southern Vicinages, District of New Jersey. In fact, he was sworn in on June 4, 2002 by Christie, then-U.S. Attorney for New Jersey.

Prior to his tenure at the U.S. Attorney's Office, Solomon served five years as the Camden County prosecutor and one year as acting prosecutor.

Before that, he served five years in the New Jersey General Assembly. He served as vice-chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, vice-chairman of the Law and Public Safety Committee, and chairman of the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice.

Solomon received his undergraduate degree from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., in 1975. He received his law degree from Widener University in 1978.

There are currently two vacancies on the seven-member Court.

Justice Virginia Long is legally required to retire from the Court. She turned 70 years old this year.

In addition, Christie decided not to renominate Justice John Wallace.

The governor's past nominees haven't fared well in the state's Senate Judiciary Committee.

In May, the judiciary committee rejected Christie's nomination of Chatham Mayor Bruce Harris.

The committee, which is controlled by Democrats, voted 7-6 against Harris. It wants Christie, a Republican, to nominate at least one Democrat to the state's high court.

Harris, a finance attorney of 20 years, would have been the third African-American and first openly gay member of the Court.

He wasn't the first of Christie's nominees to be shot down.

In March, the judiciary committee voted 7-6 against Christie's other nominee, Assistant Attorney General Philip Kwon.

The committee had issues with the fact that neither Kwon nor Harris had ever worked as a judge before.

Christie has said the stalemate over Court nominations boils down to party politics.

"I think these are folks who are just looking for excuse to vote against a Republican on the Supreme Court," the governor said in May, following the vote on Harris' nomination.


Also this week, New Hampshire's high court will be welcoming a new justice.

James Bassett, a senior litigator and shareholder of the Concord law firm of Orr and Reno, will be sworn in Thursday afternoon, The Associated Press reported.

Gov. John Lynch announced his nomination in May.

"Jim Bassett has a deep and broad knowledge of the law and has litigated numerous complex civil and constitutional cases. He has an extensive background in civil litigation, with decades of experience in New Hampshire courtrooms," Lynch said in a statement at the time.

"His intellect, breadth of experience and long and active community involvement will make him a great addition to our state's highest court."

Bassett specializes in complex litigation, legal ethics and First Amendment law.

A 1978 graduate of Dartmouth College and 1982 graduate of University of Virginia Law School, he also served as chairman of the Canterbury Board of Selectman and chairman of the Canterbury Planning Board.

He succeeds Senior Justice James Duggan, who retired in January.

"James Bassett is a fine attorney with a sterling reputation. During his appearances before the Supreme Court he has been unfailingly well prepared and professional and his written submissions are of exceptional quality," Chief Justice Linda Stewart Dalianis said following Barrett's confirmation to the Court in May.

"I and my colleagues look forward to working with him and we are certain that he will be an excellent addition to the Supreme Court."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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