Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Superior Court Faces Shortage of Judges

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Superior Court Faces Shortage of Judges

Article excerpt

Up to eight Superior Court judges in Bergen County are set to leave their positions within the coming year, potentially leaving the bench with a vacancy rate of nearly 25 percent.

Two judges have already announced their resignations, and two others will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 by the middle of next year. Several others have expressed their intent to resign, said Peter Doyne, the assignment judge for the Superior Court in Bergen County. Doyne declined to name those judges because their resignations are not official yet.

"If we are down by six to eight judges for any significant period of time, it would seriously compromise our ability to serve the public," Doyne said Monday.

Doyne said he is trying to persuade two of the soon-to-be-70- year-olds to return to the bench on recall after their retirement. He also said he is counting on the cooperation of local state senators in nominating new judges. The selection and confirmation of judicial candidates is a highly political and partisan process that usually takes several months -- sometimes years.

Superior Court judges often are chosen by a senator from their home county, and sometimes by the governor, before being officially nominated by the governor. Under an unwritten rule known as senatorial courtesy, every judicial nominee in the county must be approved by all the senators from Bergen County -- a consensus that comes after a protracted and arduous period of negotiations among the senators.

The Bergen bench currently has 33 judges and one vacancy.

The latest to announce his retirement is Judge Alexander "Zan" Carver, 67, who said Monday he is leaving the bench to join the Hackensack law firm of Harwood Lloyd.

Carver, who was sworn in as a judge in May 2008 and has since served in the family and civil divisions, said he will work as a mediator and arbitrator at the firm. …

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