Former N.J. AG appointed Rutgers' senior VP, general counsel

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Apr 15, 2013

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) -- Former New Jersey Attorney General John J. Farmer Jr. has been appointed Rutgers University's senior vice president and general counsel, President Robert Barchi announced last week at a Board of Governors meeting.

According to a news release, Farmer's appointment is effective immediately.

He replaces John Wolf, who recently resigned after reportedly advising the university to suspend, not fire, its men's basketball coach.

In December, Head Coach Mike Rice was suspended three games without pay and fined $50,000 for abusive behavior toward his players.

Rice was fired earlier this month -- just a day after ESPN's Outside the Lines aired practice videos showing him verbally and physically abusing his players.

Farmer currently serves as the dean of the university's law school in Newark.

Prior to joining Rutgers as law school dean in July 2009, he had a long career in public service and private practice.

In addition to serving as New Jersey's top lawyer from 1999 to 2002, he served as senior counsel and team leader for the National Commission on Terrorists Attacks upon the United States, commonly known as the 9/11 Commission.

In that position, he led the investigation of the country's preparedness for and response to the terrorist attacks and was a principal author of the commission's final report.

In 2008, he went on to serve as senior adviser to Gen. James Jones, special envoy for Middle East Regional Security, on development of the rule of law in the Palestinian Authority territory, and was invited by the U.S. Embassy in Armenia to assist that nation's legislative commission in investigating widespread violence and unrest following its elections.

"I am pleased that John Farmer, our outstanding dean, will assume his new responsibilities as senior vice president and general counsel," Barchi said Thursday.

"John's legal expertise and deep experience at many levels of leadership will serve Rutgers well at a critical time for the university."

Rutgers University Board of Governors Chair Ralph Izzo agreed, calling Farmer a "well respected legal mind."

"He will be a great addition to the leadership team. I am completely supportive and hope his appointment will help the university move forward at this important time," Izzo said in a statement.

According to the university, Farmer will serve in this position for a period of 12 to 18 months to help the administration manage all of the "significant issues" that the university faces.

Farmer began his career as a law clerk to Associate Justice Alan B. Handler of the New Jersey Supreme Court. He then worked for two years as a litigation associate at Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti LLP before joining the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark, where he prosecuted crimes ranging from kidnapping and arms dealing to bank fraud.

Farmer joined Gov. Christine Todd Whitman's administration in 1994, serving as assistant counsel, deputy chief counsel and chief counsel before becoming attorney general.

He also was a partner in the white-collar crime and internal investigations group at K&L Gates and, in 2007, he became a founding partner of the law firm Arseneault, Whipple, Farmer, Fassett & Azzarello LLP.

A graduate of Georgetown University and the Georgetown University Law Center, Farmer is president of the board of trustees of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, a former commissioner with the State Commission of Investigations, and a former member of the Executive Commission on Ethical Standards and the New Jersey Governor's Ethics Advisory Board. He currently sits on the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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