Dusty wine bottles/Photo by Dario Lo Presti/Shutterstock.com Dusty wine bottles/Photo by Dario Lo Presti/Shutterstock.com

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has named a Metuchen litigator and municipal court judge as the next acting director of the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Grewal appointed James Graziano of Graziano, Piasecki & Whitelaw in Middlesex, who will begin serving as acting director Nov. 26. Gov. Phil Murphy was expected to formally nominate Graziano to the position, subject to the advice and consent of the state Senate, according to a Nov. 9 announcement.

Graziano succeeds David Rible, who has served as the ABC director since July 2017. Rible is leaving the Department of Law and Public Safety, the release said, though it offered no details on Rible’s next move.

In his practice, Graziano defends personal injury and employment claims. He also is a municipal court judge in Metuchen Borough, where he lives with his family.

“James is a seasoned civil litigator and experienced municipal judge whose legal background makes him an excellent candidate to lead the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control,” Grewal said in the statement. “The ABC interacts extensively with businesses and municipalities across New Jersey in regulating and enforcing the state’s liquor laws, and James’ practice of law both on and off the bench make him uniquely qualified to carry out those duties.”

Graziano is a 1977 graduate of Rutgers University and a 1980 graduate of Rutgers University Law School-Camden.

From 1981 to 1997, he was an associate, and later a partner, at Psak & Parker in Middlesex. He then helped found what is currently his present firm.

The agency oversees upward of 9,000 licensees who manufacture, distribute, sell, and serve alcoholic beverages in the state, as well as the investigations, through the Investigations Bureau.

“I look forward to working with the Attorney General, the members of the Division and industry representatives to advance the legislative objectives of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act,” Graziano said in the statement.