Following a recommendation by former Gov. Brendan Byrne that the incoming Obama administration consider criminal attorney Joe Hayden for the office of U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, one of Hayden’s best-known peers this week also endorsed Hayden.
Criminal attorney Ted Wells said he believes the Hoboken-based Hayden would be an excellent choice – the question at this stage is whether the veteran attorney would take the job.
“I think Joe would bring a stature to the office because for a long time he has been viewed as one of the top lawyers in the state,” said Wells. “He has served as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, everyone knows him and everyone respects him.”
Wells of Livingston has represented Cheney confidante L. Scooter Libby, former Sen. Robert Torricelli, and former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy. He recently won a 364.2 million verdict for Citigroup, and has tried defense cases with Hayden for 20 years.
“Joe has represented corporate executives, political figures and companies and offers a depth of experience that few can match,” said Wells, pointing in particular to Hayden’s trial work in the first Princeton/Newport Partners case.
Hayden served as deputy attorney general in the early 1970s, prosecuted the state’s first wiretap case and launched a grand jury probe of the Atlantic City police department.
If Hayden were not interested in serving as U.S. Attorney, Wells said he hopes senators Robert Menendez (D-Hoboken) and Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park) would consider recommending an African-American or Latino for the position.
Wells, who is African-American, said he would not accept an offer as he is not in a position to leave his current practice.
Nominated by President George W. Bush and sworn into office the following year, current U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie is widely viewed as a leading Republican prospect for governor next year.
“When Chris Christie came in there was a lot of concern because he had little experience, but he has compiled an admirable record in fighting public corruption and done a very solid job,” Wells said.
Wells is the husband of Nina Mitchell Wells, the New Jersey Secretary of State.