Dems grill Leone over traffic tickets on way to approving him

TRENTON – Before approving him, the Senate Judiciary quizzed Gov. Chris Christie’s nominee for a superior court judgeship, George Leone, who works as chief of appeals in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

Judiciary Chairman Nick Scutari (D-Linden) identified Leone’s 15 traffic tickets over the last 12 years. He turned that into a positive on the nominee’s behalf.

“The fact that you received so many indicates that you never identified yourself as a US attorney,” Scutari pointed out. Intended or not, the comment uncomfortably invoked Christie’s driving record, magnified on the 2009 campaign trail.

“I apologize,” said Leone. “I recognize the seriouness of the motor vehicle code. I plan to follow the example of the judge with whom I clerked, who drove ridiculously slow.”

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) made the candidate squirm slightly and revisit his mea culpa.

“I hope you’re not a role model for your kids in terms of driving,” she cracked. “Anytime you need a lecture about your driving ability, feel free to call me.”

“I apologize.”

State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) suggested that his party does not intend to bust Leone’s chops once they vote.

“Times have changed,” he said, referring to the troubles of former Gov. Jon Corzine’s nominees. “Republicans would have had you hanging by the rafters.”

Dems grill Leone over traffic tickets on way to approving him