State Senator Loretta Weinberg, in the midst of a major political battle with the Bergen County Democratic Organization, is pushing Hackensack attorney Mary Thurber for a Superior Court Judgeship. Thurber, who represented Weinberg for what appears to be a discounted hourly rate during the contested Special Election Convention for State Senate in 2004, faces allegations of legal malpractice and Breach of fiduciary duties, according to the New Jersey Law Journal. At question is Thurber’s $920,000 legal fees in a protracted legal battle over the estate of commodities broker Salvatore Calcaterra. “I’ll state it on the record, I was, and I am, taken aback with regard to the fee,” said Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne, who sits in Bergen County. Weinberg supports the Bergen County Bar Association’s proposal that an independent committee of local lawyers review potential judicial candidates before Senators forward their recommendations to the Governor. Editor’s Note: Weinberg issued a statement in response to this post, which is printed in entirety:
Mary Thurber is an outstanding candidate for the bench and continues to enjoy my unqualified and enthusiatic support along with my colleagues, Senators Paul Sarlo and Joseph Coniglio. We are joined by myriad members of the bench and bar. A quote from a New Jersey Law Journal article from nearly two years ago was posted on the Inside Edge. As is often the case, false accusations make news, but the vindication goes unpublished. However, it is disappointing to see a two-year old accusation presented as current fact without mentioning that the lawsuit was then dismissed in its entirety as totally unfounded. It is true that one of Salvatore Calcaterra’s five children sued Ms. Thurber in 2005. The case was defended by a motion to dismiss, which resulted in the entry of a judgment of dismissal in favor of Thurber, dismissing the claims in their entirety, without trial. In an unprecedented 119-page decision, Judge Harriet Derman scrutinized every aspect of the twelve separate meritless claims, and totally vindicated Ms. Thurber’s actions. The Judge criticized the claims as smacking of chutzpah, and being based on speculation and gossip. In reviewing Thurber’s actions as counsel to the Estate, the Judge praised Thurber’s work, declaring “This is a victory, not malpractice.” The Court dismissed every count, and no appeal was filed.