It’s not surprising that Gov.-elect Christopher Christie picked a career prosecutor as his Attorney General – the man who spent seven years as U.S. Attorney dropped plenty of hints during the campaign that he liked the way prosecutors think. Paula Dow, who spent sixteen years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney before becoming Essex County Prosecutor in 2003, becomes the tenth Attorney General with prosecutorial experience named since the current State Constitution was approved in 1947.
Grover Richman spent seven years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and two years as the U.S. Attorney before Gov. Robert Meyner appointed him Attorney General after the 1953 election. Richman was the front runner for the 1961 Democratic gubernatorial nomination before a heart attack, at age 50, ended his campaign. (Richman’s health issues cleared the way for Richard Hughes to enter the race for governor.) Early in his career, James Zazzali served as an Assistant Essex County Prosecutor. He later became Attorney General under Gov. Brendan Byrne, the second time Byrne, a former Essex County Prosecutor, hired him. Zazzali later became Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Robert Del Tufo, who was Gov. Jim Florio’s Attorney General, had been an Assistant Morris County Prosecutor and the U.S. Attorney from New Jersey. He became Attorney General four years after losing a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor. Deborah Poritz held top posts at the State Attorney General’s office in the 1970’s and 1980’s, before becoming Gov. Thomas Kean’s Chief Counsel and Christine Todd Whitman’s Attorney General and Chief Justice. Stuart Rabner was a career federal prosecutor when Gov. Jon Corzine brought him to Trenton as his Chief Counsel. He made an unanticipated stop in the Attorney General’s office (after Zulima Farber got in trouble) before Corzine nominated him as Chief Justice.
John Farmer, Jr. and Peter Harvey served as Assistant U.S. Attorneys early in the legal careers. Peter Perretti was an Assistant Essex County Prosecutor and Farber was an Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor. Anne Milgram was an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan and worked for the U.S. Department of Justice.