Bergen County Counsel Esther Suarez received quite a grilling as the Senate Judiciary Committee considered her nomination for Superior Court Judge, which released her nomination today despite objections that she had never tried a case in court.
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) close questioned her on her numerous public jobs and private legal work. Suarez is the full-time County Counsel ($125,000/year), the part-time County Adjuster ($25,000/year), the general counsel to the Union City Parking Authority ($55,000/year), as a lawyer for the Union City Board of Education (she says she billed ten hours in 2009, for a total income of $1,600), and as a partner at Catania, Ehrlich & Suarez, a North Jersey firm that specializes in casino law, including licensing and compliance.
Suarez is a former associate at Scarinci & Hollenbeck, a politically powerful firm where former Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero was a partner. Ferriero pushed for her appointment as County Counsel by his own protégé, Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney. She is now a political ally of State Sen. Brian Stack (D-Union City), the Union City mayor.
Her law partner is Frank Catania, a former Republican Assemblyman from Passaic County and former state Divison of Gaming Enforcement Commission, who is now on the board of Nevada Gold.
Two Senators, Nia Gill (D-Montclair) and Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), abstained on the Suarez nomination.