Zulima’s clock is ticking

If she ever hopes to serve on the New Jersey Supreme Court, Zulima Farber it needs to be soon. Farber is 61-years-old, and the state Constitution forces Judges to retire at age seventy. The next seat for the former state Public Advocate, now an advisor to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jon Corzine, is the one currently held by Chief Justice Deborah Poritz. Poritz turns seventy next October, but will probably retire after the current court session so that a new Chief Justice can be in place by next fall. Corzine, if he wins, would have the option of elevating a current Associate Justice to Chief and then appointing a new Associate Justice. Speculation among Democrats that another Corzine advisor, Robert Del Tufo, a former state Attorney General and United States Attorney, might be a candidate for the Supreme Court is incorrect. The 72-year-old Del Tufo is too old for judicial service. Under the current State Constitution, only Joseph Weintraub, had been elevated from Associate Justice to Chief Justice. Weintraub was Counsel to Governor Robert Meyner; he spent less than a year as a Superior Court Judge and less than eight months as an Associate Justice before Meyner named him Chief. The youngest Chief Justice was Pierre Garven, who was 45-years-old when William Cahill named him Chief Justice when Weintraub retired in 1973. Garvin served just 49 days as Justice; he died following a stroke. Only one of the six Chief Justices under the current Constitution had prior judicial experience: Richard Hughes, who had been a Judge in Mercer County (and the Mercer County Democratic Chairman) before his election as Governor in 1961. Hughes was named Chief Justice following Garven’s death. (Arthur Vanderbilt was named Circuit Court Judge on October 31, 1947 in order to satisfy a requirement that Supreme Court Judges have judicial experience at the time the Constitution went into effect; Governor Alfred Driscoll named him Chief Justice 38 days later.) Robert Wilentz had been a State Assemblyman, and Poritz was state Attorney General.

Zulima’s clock is ticking