Haines gets a firm handshake from Judiciary Committee, 8-0

TRENTON – State Sen. Phil Haines (R-Mount Holly) caught bipartisan rave reviews from the Senate Judiciary Committee today, with an 8-0 approval of his appointment as a Superior Court judge.

As the meeting started off, state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) shot off in good humor: “There’s more Democrats here than Republicans.”

In walking state Sen. Tom Kean (R-Westfield): “I object!”

A fitting start for a judiciary hearing, a cross-aisle seal of approval to the stately Haines.

“You’ve had the demeanor much more of a judge than a senator,” said state Sen. Gerry Cardinale (R-Demarest). “You have been a valuable member of our caucus.”

Kind words flowed from bigwig Dems, Lesniak and state Sen. Brain Stack (D-Union City).

Haines said, “I am deeply humbled and moved by each of your comments.”

Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) also pitched in, then joked about this “killer cros-examination” of Haines.

State Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Cedar Grove) said, “You’ve sent the gamut of everything.”

“It’s flattering,” he told PolitickerNJ. “So many senators with so many years of experience.”

He said the move isn’t an upgrade – “I see them as equal branched of government” – but it was a lofty goal of his, something he’s put himself in a position to be considered for through years of service.

Thirty years as a practicing attorney, 15 years of elected office, and another 15 in community service with organizations like the United Way.

It’s his experience that provides his biggest asset, an understanding of “the concept of fairness,” Haines said.  “Rather than just being an advocate all your life (…) There’s a fairness concept that is the basis of law.” Haines gets a firm handshake from Judiciary Committee, 8-0