New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

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Municipal Court Practice Section Honors Judge McGrory With Inaugural Award

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The NJSBA Municipal Court Practice Section recognized a preeminent colleague on July 28 when the group presented its inaugural Municipal Court Practitioner of the Year Award to the Honorable R. Kevin McGrory, retired presiding judge of the Municipal Court.

Section Chair Kenneth Vercammen presented Judge McGrory with the honor and stated “this section believes that there are few individuals that have had a greater, more beneficial impact on the shaping of the fabric that binds our municipal judicial systems than Judge Kevin McGrory.”

McGrory served as the first presiding judge for the Mercer vicinage municipal courts, and as the first regional municipal court presiding judge for Region III, which comprises Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren counties. He served as the first and only chair of the statewide conference of Regional Municipal Presiding Judges and as the first and only chair, until his retirement in June 2001, of the successor statewide Conference of Municipal Court Presiding Judges.

During his tenure as chair of the Conference of Municipal Court Presiding Judges, guidelines for the development of new standards for all of New Jersey’s municipal courts were adopted and implemented in accordance with the group’s standardization report. The report continues to have an impact and most recently, it fostered the recent revisions to the present adjournment policy.

In remarks delivered September 2001 at McGrory’s retirement celebration, Dennis L. Bliss, assistant director for Municipal Court Services for the Administrative Office of the Courts, noted that the judge’s “fingerprints are on every initiative that has brought the municipal courts to their present high state of professionalism, efficiency and dedication to administer justice fairly, impartially and independently.”

McGrory participated in accomplishing many changes and improvements that greatly improved the municipal court system. The courts were completely automated, the body of statutory law governing their organization was completely revised, municipal court administrators were certified, and every municipal court was linked by email.

He was instrumental in achieving additional reforms including improvement in court facilities and security; the inauguration of hand-held radio frequency, parking ticket-issuing machines being installed in municipalities with parking authorities or agencies; the use of the Comprehensive Enforcement Program or collection agencies; the establishment of a Municipal Division Manager in each vicinage; the appointment of a Presiding Judge-Municipal Courts in each vicinage to serve as a mentor and role model; the Supreme Court’s adoption of the comprehensive revision of Part VII of the Rules; the availability of a municipal public defender in every municipal court; and, the inauguration of the use of credit cards in the municipal courts.

Vercammen pointed out McGrory’s notable achievements for the NJSBA as well. The judge was instrumental in founding the Municipal Court Practice Committee and in the creation of the committee’s program at the NJSBA annual meeting on the technical aspects of municipal court practice.

“Throughout his life as a lawyer, Judge McGrory has demonstrated the high level of professionalism, evenness of temperament, and integrity and fairness on the bench that we look for in our judicial leaders,” said Municipal Court Practice Section Immediate Past Chair Arnold Fishman.

Judge McGrory humbly accepted the award noting that his success as a municipal court judge was due in no small part to the many men and women with whom he has worked in the judiciary and the bar, and as litigants appearing before him.

McGrory served as an original member of the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law and as a member of the Supreme Court Strategic Planning Committee.

McGrory retired from the bench in July 2001 to return to the practice of law. He was quoted in the New Jersey Lawyer in June of that year as saying, “I’d like to close out my career by being a lawyer, by being an advocate.”

The New Jersey State Bar Association, incorporated in 1899, is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public, to reforming and improving the legal system and to aiding in the administration of justice.