Governor Christie’s nomination of Anne Patterson to fill the seat that will soon be vacated by Justice Rivera-Soto won the approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week by a vote of 11-1. The full Senate should likewise vote in favor of the nominee.
Anne Patterson has a distinguished resume. She has been a partner at one of New Jersey’s largest private law firms for many years, ably handling the defense of complex commercial litigation. Previously, she was a Deputy Attorney General and a Special Assistant to the Attorney General. She has been earned inclusion in a number of different lists of distinguished New Jersey lawyers.
I have had personal experience with Anne Patterson. We served together on the Supreme Court of New Jersey Committee on Character. That Committee evaluates the fitness of applicants to the Bar. Among other things, the Committee conducts panel hearings when necessary. Anne Patterson and I sat together on a number of such panels. In every instance, she was meticulously prepared, thorough, and fair. She showed great intellect and a sound moral compass. In my observation, she excelled at the quasi-judicial function in which we were engaged. She has not had judicial experience, but her track record on the Committee on Character, along with her personal qualities and her ample litigation experience, lead to the conclusion that she will make a fine Justice.
The one member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who voted against the nomination of Anne Patterson expressed concern that her confirmation would leave the Court with no minority representation (though the Court will have a majority of women). Justice Wallace’s seat still remains to be filled, and Justice Long will reach the mandatory retirement age on March 1, 2012. Consideration should be given to the issue of minority representation in connection with those seats. Meanwhile, the nomination of Anne Patterson to the Supreeme Court should be approved.