The annual reshuffling of New Jersey Superior Court judges shows a decline in bench strength in the state.
Under the new General Assignment Order, issued Wednesday, courts in the state’s 21 counties will be staffed by 362 judges in the 2013-14 term, down by nine from the 371 in 2012-13. The judicial ranks have declined by 20 from 2008-09, when there were 382 judges.
Nine of the state’s 15 vicinages have fewer judges than they had a year ago. Bergen County is the biggest loser. It shed three judges, reducing its numbers to 31 from 34. Several other vicinages will lose two judges each — Atlantic-Cape May, Morris-Sussex, Passaic and Cumberland-Gloucester-Salem. Camden, Essex, Ocean and Somerset-Hunterdon-Warren each lose one judge, compared to a year earlier.
Four vicinages gained judges — two each in Hudson, Middlesex and Union and one in Monmouth.
Burlington and Mercer stayed unchanged.
In Atlantic-Cape May, William Todd and Max Baker have resigned. Raymond Batten moved from the Criminal Part to the General Equity Part, where he is the presiding judge. John Porto moved from the Family Part to the Criminal Part.
In Bergen, Alexander Carver III and Joseph Conte have resigned. Harry Carroll has been temporarily assigned to the Appellate Division. Menelaos Toskos moved from Civil to General Equity, Lisa Firko from Family to Civil, and Donald Venezia from Criminal to Family.
In Burlington, Evan Crook has resigned. Susan Claypool moved from Civil to Criminal and Janet Zoltanski Smith from Family to Civil. Marlene Lynch Ford, appointed in March and assigned to Family, remains there.
In Camden, Stephen Holden, Ronald Freeman and Thomas Brown Jr. resigned. George Leone was temporarily assigned to the Appellate Division. Anthony Pugliese moved from Criminal to Civil and Lee Solomon from Civil to Criminal, where he is the presiding judge. There are two new judges, Thomas Shusted in Family and Donald Stein in Criminal.
Essex saw nine judges leave — Denise Cobham, Rachel Davidson, Paul Vichness, Kenneth Levy, Harriet Farber Klein, Joseph Cassini III, Peter Ryan, James Troiano and Miguel De La Carrera, who now sits in Passaic. But the vicinage welcomed three new judges: Stephen Taylor to Civil and Peter Bogaard and Angela White Dalton to Family. And transferring to Essex are Patrick Arre and Christine Farrington, who had sat in Hudson, Daniel Yablonsky and Randal Chiocca from Passaic, and Louis Sceusi from Sussex.
Also in Essex, Siobhan Teare and Carolyn Wright moved from Civil to Criminal; David Katz from Family to General Equity; Thomas Moore from Criminal to General Equity; Robert Gardner from Family to Criminal and Garry Furnari from Family to Civil. Walter Koprowski is the new presiding General Equity judge.
Hudson lost Edward T. O’Connor Jr., who resigned, and Arre and Farrington to Essex. Francis Schultz from Criminal and Marybeth Rogers from Family both moved to Civil, while Adam Jacobs moved from Family to Criminal. Two judges transferred from Union County: Mirtha Ospina to Family and Joseph Turula to Civil. The county welcomed new arrivals Jeffrey Jablonski and Nesle Rodriguez, both to Civil, and Mitzy Galis-Menendez to Criminal. Former Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio, who was a judge in 2001-02, returned to the bench and is serving in Family.
In Middlesex, Melvin Gelade, Glenn Berman and Phillip Paley resigned. Douglas Wolfson, a state judge from 1991 to 2002, returned to the bench in December. Ann McCormick moved from Civil Part to General Equity. Alberto Rivas moved from Family to Criminal and Barry Weisberg from Family to Civil. The vicinage welcomed four new judges — Arnold Natali and Christopher Rafano to Family and Randall Corman and Carlia Brady to Civil. (Brady was suspended without pay in June after she was arrested and charged with harboring a fugitive in her home.)
In Monmouth, Thomas Cavanaugh Jr., Francis DiStefano and Eugene Iadanza resigned. Linda Grasso Jones and James McGann, both formerly of Civil, moved to Family Part. Honora O’Brien Kilgallen moved from Civil to Criminal, Thomas Scully from Criminal to Civil, and Paul Escandon and Dennis O’Brien from Family to Civil. Patricia DelBueno Cleary was named presiding General Equity judge and Francis Vernoia presiding Criminal judge. The vicinage welcomed four new judges: Katie Gummer to Civil, Joseph Oxley to Criminal and Kathleen Sheedy and Mara Zazzali-Hogan to Family.
In Morris-Sussex, there are four new presiding judges: Thomas Manahan in Civil, Stuart Minkowitz in Criminal, Stephan Hansbury in General Equity and Catherine Enright in Family. David Rand and Deanne Wilson have resigned. Michael Hubner moved from Civil to Family while Mary Gibbons Whipple went from Family to Criminal. New judge Maritza Berdote Byrne is in Family.
In Passaic, Richard Freid moved from Civil to Family and George Rohde Jr. from Family to Civil. Nestor Guzman retired.
In Union, Roberto Alcazar retired. Scott Moynihan and William Daniel moved from Criminal to Family, Mark Ciarrocca from Family to Civil, Regina Caulfield from Civil to Criminal and Thomas Walsh from Family to Criminal. There are five new judges: Alan Lesnewich in Civil and James Wilson, Bradford Bury, Daniel Lindemann and Linda Mallozzi in Family. Robert Mega is the new presiding Criminal judge.
In Somerset-Hunterdon-Warren, John Coyle Jr. and Peter Buchsbaum left the bench. Thomas Miller and Hany Mawla moved from Family Part to Civil, where Miller is the new presiding Civil judge. The vicinage welcomed one new judge, Michael O’Neill to Family.
In Cumberland-Gloucester-Salem, John Tomasello retired and David Krell passed away last April. Robert Malestein moved from Civil to Criminal, Cristen D’Arrigo from Family to Criminal, Darrell Fineman from Criminal to Civil, and James Swift from Criminal to Family.
Ocean County saw no changes other than the departure of Ronald Hoffman. Mercer County saw no changes in this year’s order.
The Appellate Division and Tax Court will also get by with fewer judges. The Appellate Division will have 31 judges in 2013-14, down from 33 last year. The Tax Court will have 6 judges in 2013-14, down from 7.
Two Appellate Division judges — Ariel Rodriguez and Mary Catherine Cuff — are temporarily assigned to the Supreme Court. Carroll from Bergen and Leone from Camden are filling their seats in the interim. Carmen Messano is taking over for Rodriguez as presiding judge for administration. The General Assignment Order denotes two positions as “temporary assignee.” The court intends to fill those posts at some later date, says judiciary spokeswoman Tamara Kendig.
Although Essex’s judge contingent declined by only one this year, it saw the biggest decline in the state over the past five years — by a measure of 25 percent. In 2013-14, Essex will have 39 judges but in 2008-09 it had 52 judges. Other big losers over a five-year period are Camden County, which will have 23 judges in 2013-14, compared to 28 in 2008-09; and Monmouth County, whose 2013-14 judicial population is 25, down from 28 five years ago.