Big Changes in the Appellate Division

In orders dated yesterday and published this morning, Chief Justice Rabner announced significant changes in the Appellate Division. Four new judges have been temporarily elevated to that court, while a fifth, already sitting judge has been promoted to Presiding Judge of one of the Appellate Division’s seven Parts.

The new Presiding Judge is Judge Vernoia. As stated here, effective March 18, 2024 and until further order, he will become Presiding Judge of Part C. Judge Vernoia will reach the mandatory retirement age later this year, so he will round out his judicial career as a Presiding Judge. This marks the third promotion to Presiding Judge of a Part announced this month, with Judges Gooden Brown and Mayer having been designated as the new Presiding Judges of Parts D and G, respectively. Congratulations, Judge Vernoia!

Four trial level judges have been temporarily elevated to the Appellate Division. Each of them will his or her seat on March 25 and serve until May 19. In alphabetical order, the newly elevated judges are Lorraine Augostini, who will sit on Part G, Stanley Bergman, Jr., who will join Part D, Adam Jacobs, who will sit on Part E, and Ellen Torregrossa-O’Connor, who will take a seat on Part F.

Judge Augostini, a graduate of Trinity College and Georgetown University School of Law, took the bench in Sussex County in 2017, having been appointed by Governor Christie. She has sat in the Civil and Family Divisions there. This is her tenure year. Before becoming a judge, she worked in the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, where she handled criminal, juvenile, and child welfare matters and had a few different titles. She also held several positions with the New Jersey Office of the Law Guardian.

Another 2017 appointee of Governor Christie, Judge Bergman has sat in the Family and Civil Divisions in Atlantic County. He is a graduate of Albright College and New York Law School. An Atlantic County person through and through, Judge Bergman clerked for Judge Winkelstein when the judge sat in Atlantic County and had served as a Municipal Prosecutor in Northfield and a Solicitor for Planning Boards in Margate and Ventnor before being appointed to the bench.

Judge Jacobs was appointed to the Passaic County bench in 2011. He has sat in three Divisions in two different Counties, Passaic (where he hit the trifecta of Family, Criminal, and Civil) and Hudson ( Family and Criminal). Before his judicial appointment, he was a sole practitioner who handled civil, criminal, and family matters, evidently preparing him for service in all three trial level divisions of the Superior Court. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers-Newark Law School.

Finally, Judge Torregrossa-O’Connor has sat in Monmouth County since her appointment in 2018. She has spent time in both the Criminal and Family Divisions and became Presiding Judge, Family in 2021. A graduate of Rutgers and Dickinson School of Law, Judge Torregrossa-O’Connor has spent her legal career at Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, where she handled criminal, white-collar, licensing, and regulatory matters and rose to the position of General Counsel to the firm.

Welcome, Judges Augostini, Bergman, Jacobs, and Torregrossa-O’Connor!