TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who earlier this month nominated Faustino Fernandez-Vina to the state Supreme Court, this week denied he offered the judge the job before.

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

According to PolitickerNJ, Christie made the comment during a news conference Tuesday.

Last week, sources told the website Fernandez-Vina declined an opportunity to serve on the state's high court previously. The sources -- Democratic -- told the website he was being tapped to replace former Justice John Wallace Jr., who Christie decided not to renominate.

The judge's disinterest in taking over for Wallace reportedly pleased Senate President Steve Sweeney, who told his caucus that Fernandez-Vina should get a hearing from the Senate Judiciary Committee because of it.

Recently, several Democrats who serve on the committee have said publicly they are willing to consider the judge's confirmation.

Christie, who told reporters he was pleased Democrats would hear his most recent nomination, denied he ever offered up the job to Fernandez-Vina previously.

"I never offered a Supreme Court seat to Judge Fernandez-Vina before two weeks ago," the governor said, according to PolitickerNJ.

Christie's previous attempts to fill two vacant seats on the state's high court have failed.

Last year, the judiciary committee rejected the governor'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.

Also last year, the 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 last year, following the vote on Harris' nomination.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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