Director of Communications
NJSBA Vetting Process Revised for Judge and Prosecutor Candidates
New Brunswick -- Vetting candidates for top prosecutor posts and the bench will now be more uniform, the New Jersey State Bar Association announced today.
With an eye toward making certain the process is effective and vigorous, the New Jersey State Bar Association signed a revised version of the so-called Hughes Compact with Gov. Jon Corzine. The bar association also revamped the manual that guides the committee that oversees the review process for candidates.
The new manual states, for the first time, that county bar associations are bound by the same policies and procedures used by the state bar association’s Judicial and Prosecutorial Committee.
?These changes support and enhance the vetting process for candidates, which will ultimately result in a strengthened nomination process. This harmonious approach ensures that the governor will receive the best determination on each judicial and prosecutorial candidate,? said State Bar President Peggy Sheahan Knee.
Added Ralph Lamparello, secretary of the association and chair of the committee that revised the manual: ?On behalf of the legal profession, the state bar is entrusted with being the independent entity that reviews candidates for judicial and prosecutorial appointments to ensure the quality of our bench always remains a model for the nation. Working with the governor's office, our goal was to create uniformity in the review process statewide."
Key changes require term limits for committee members, reaffirm a strict 12-month moratorium on any state or county member seeking a judgeship, and create a system to address members who do not follow the rules.
State bar officials said the changes were made with one purpose in mind: to guarantee the quality of candidates for New Jersey’s bench and top prosecutor positions.
?It’s a tremendous privilege for the state bar to be able to vet judges and prosecutors. We want to make sure we keep the compact. Now we have everybody on the same page. It?s very important, said Richard Badolato, a former president of the association and current chair of its vetting committee.
The agreement goes back to 1969 when then-Gov. Richard Hughes signed a compact with the association. Called the Hughes Compact, the agreement gives the state bar association the authority to confidentially interview and report on proposed nominees to the state tax and superior and Supreme courts, as well as county prosecutors. The review process is completely confidential.
The compact is a formal agreement between the governor and the state bar association, and requires participation of county bar associations, as well.
*Members of state and county judicial and prosecutorial appointment committees can only serve two consecutive three-year terms, and the chairperson serves on a year-to-year basis.
*To further protect the independence of the work the committees perform, no member can seek a judgeship for 12 months after their term.
*Each committee member must annually sign a form agreeing to adhere to confidentiality.
The New Jersey State Bar Association is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public and to reforming and improving the legal system. It encourages involvement in voluntary pro bono activities and supports the fair administration of justice. Incorporated in 1899, it is the state’s largest lawyers group. Visit the Association’s website at www.njsba.com.