US Federal Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo Martin Luther King Courthouse, Newark, NJ.
US Federal Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo Martin Luther King Courthouse, Newark, NJ. (Carmen Natale)

Madeline Cox Arleo, who’s spent 14 years as a federal magistrate judge in New Jersey, on Thursday was nominated to a district court seat.

Arleo will fill the vacancy left by Dennis Cavanaugh, who retired earlier this year and went into private practice.

Arleo, 51, is one of four district judge nominations nationwide, the other three in Texas vicinages. “Throughout their careers, these nominees have displayed unwavering commitment to justice and integrity,” President Obama said in a statement Thursday. “Their records of public service are distinguished and impressive and I am confident that they will serve the American people well.

Arleo was appointed a magistrate judge in 2000 after a 10-year career in state and federal litigation.

After clerking for New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Marie Garibaldi in 1989 and 1990, Arleo was an associate, then partner, at Clapp & Eisenberg in Newark until 1994, when the firm dissolved. She was a partner in a successor firm, Barry & McMoran, which in 1999 merged into Tompkins, McGuire, Wachenfeld & Barry. She stayed there until her 2000 appointment to the bench.

Arleo earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College in 1985, a master’s degree from the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers in 1986, and a law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law in 1989.

In the Law Journal’s most recent survey of practitioners about federal court judges, released last October, Arleo earned an overall score of 8.72, sixth among the district’s 12 magistrate judges, based on scores assigned in nine performance categories.

Her highest scores were for lack of bias as to race, gender and political party identity (9.39), and courtesy and respect towards litigants and lawyers (8.91). Her lowest were for capability of handling complex cases (8.43), and for fair weighing of evidence and arguments (8.51).

Arleo didn’t return a call to her chambers late Thursday. Chief District Judge Jerome Simandle couldn’t be reached.

In January, Cavanaugh turned 67 and notched his 13th year as a district judge. That triggered the federal judiciary’s “rule of 80,” which entitles a judge to retire at full pay, and to take senior status if he wishes, once his age and years of service equal 80.

Cavanaugh said at the time that he wanted to leave the bench but didn’t want to return to traditional practice, so he joined Morristown’s McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter as a partner in the growing field of alternate dispute resolution. ■

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