Justice Anne Patterson. Photo by Carmen Natale

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Thursday he will nominate Supreme Court Justice Anne Patterson for tenure.

The nomination, which must be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate, would mean that Patterson will be eligible to serve until the mandatory retirement age of 70.

There is expected to be little or no opposition to her tenure nomination. Patterson is a Republican; Murphy, a Democrat.

“I am pleased to uphold the practice of reappointing good, fair-minded and qualified justices, regardless of their party affiliation, to our New Jersey Supreme Court. This is a critical tenet of an independent judiciary that I fully intend to fulfill.” Murphy said in a statement. “Justice Patterson meets all of the prerequisites, and I am certain she will continue to serve the court and the residents of New Jersey with honor and integrity.”

Patterson referred calls to court administration. Chief Justice Stuart Rabner issued a statement.

“We are delighted by the Governor’s announcement. Justice Patterson is a gifted and thoughtful jurist,” Rabner said. “We look forward to a smooth reconfirmation process.”

New Jersey State Bar Association President John Keefe Jr. also issued a statement. “For the past seven years, Justice Patterson has been an exemplary jurist and legal scholar,” said Keefe, who heads a firm in Red Bank.

Former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, nominated Patterson to the bench in 2011. She was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in September 2011.

Before being nominated to the bench, Patterson was with Morristown’s Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti, where she focused her practice on toxic torts, intellectual property, commercial litigation and products liability defense. She also served as a deputy attorney general and special assistant under Attorney General—and Riker Danzig name partner—Peter Perretti. She also served on the court’s Committee on Character. 

Patterson’s initial nomination did not come without controversy. At the time, Christie was a year past his decision to not renominate a Democrat, Justice John Wallace Jr., for tenure. (After taking office, Christie vowed to “remake” the Supreme Court, voicing his displeasure over the court’s controversial rulings over school funding and affordable housing.)

For years, the state Senate, controlled by Democrats, refused to either consider or vote on Christie’s nominations to fill Wallace’s seat.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, only agreed to consider Patterson’s nomination after Christie made it clear that the nomination was being made to fill the seat being vacated by Republican Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto, who had declined to seek tenure.

Wallace’s seat eventually was filled by current Justice Walter TImpone, a Democrat.