Today, February 29, 2012, was Justice Long’s last day on the Supreme Court. She turns 70 years of age tomorrow and, thus, she has reached mandatory retirement age.
Justice Long’s career has been a singularly diverse one. Prior to her years as a Supreme Court Justice, which began in 1999, she served on the Appellate Division for fifteen years, including service as a Presiding Judge of her Part. Before that, Justice Long sat in the Civil, Criminal and Chancery Divisions (the first woman to serve in the Chancery Division) in multiple different vicinages. Governor Byrne appointed her to the bench in 1978, so she has served on the judiciary for 34 years. Justice Long is New Jersey’s longest-serving jurist, having authored over 3,000 opinions.
But even before her judicial service began, Justice Long had built a resume that would be the envy of most attorneys. She was an associate at Pitney Hardin & Kipp, a Deputy Attorney General, Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, and Commissioner of the Department of Banking, as it was then known. A graduate of Dunbarton College of Holy Cross and Rutgers-Newark School of Law, Justice Long is truly one of the giants of the New Jersey judiciary.
I had the pleasure of sitting on the NJSBA Appellate Practice Committee with Justice Long, and appearing before her on more than one occasion. In both contexts, Justice Long was always prepared, wise, fair, unfailingly polite to attorneys and her fellow jurists, and willing to inject a little humor. But as she warned attorneys at a seminar on Supreme Court practice, attorneys should not venture any jokes when arguing before the Court. As she said, “only the Justices are funny.”
We will all miss Justice Long.