When retired New Jersey trial judges return to serve on recall, they are rarely in the spotlight. But the spotlight is now squarely on Burlington County Superior Court Judge Michael Hogan, who retired on New Year’s Day 2012 and who has been serving on a recall basis since January 2013, as he oversees one of the most polarizing lawsuits in the state: the proposed $225 million settlement between the Christie administration and ExxonMobil over contamination claims, a deal harshly criticized by Democrats and environmental activists.

All eyes are on the judge, but practitioners familiar with him say he has the requisite demeanor and experience to handle the controversial case.

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