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Since Richard Nixon’s presidency, hundreds of young lawyers have come and gone at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey in Newark, and they have one thing in common: Melvin Kracov. As the longest-serving assistant U.S. attorney, he is the office’s institutional memory, the go-to guy for mentoring and a link between the office and its influential alumni, many of whom have become federal and state judges, as well as managing partners in big firms. Now, after 28 years in the office, Kracov is about to become a new kid at the age of 59. Acting on a recommendation by New Jersey Attorney General John Farmer Jr. — yes, he’s one of those veterans of the federal prosecutor’s office — Gov. Christine Todd Whitman has nominated Kracov to be a Hudson County Superior Court judge. It shows that cozying up to local politicians isn’t the only way to get on the bench. Kracov, who lives in West New York, is an independent, and though he cruised through the vetting by the Hudson County Bar Association’s Judicial and Prosecutorial Nominations Committee, he had no local sponsor, say lawyers familiar with his appointment. Kracov has homework to do, having no private practice or New Jersey state court experience.

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