Senate judiciary approves Hunterdon prosecutor

TRENTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee approved nominee Anthony P. Kearns, III for the vacant Hunterdon County Prosecutor position.

Kearns is a partner at Rylak, Gianos, Kearns and Phillips law firm in Clinton and president of the Hunterdon County Bar Association.

Deputy Attorney General Dermott O’Grady has been serving as acting prosecutor since May 7, when former Prosecutor J. Patrick Barnes resigned.

If approved by the Senate, Kearns will serve a five-year term.

State Sen. Mike Doherty (R-Washington Twp.) spoke on Kearn’s behalf.

The Hunterdon prosecutor’s office has been of note recently because of the since-ended investigation into County Sheriff Deborah Trout.

The committee also approved nominations for John Inglesino for the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority, Patricia DiCostanzo for Bergen County Superintendent of Elections, and Theresa Mullins O’Connor for Bergen County Deputy Superintendent of Elections.

Another measure discussed by the committee was SCR83, a proposed constitutional amendment to require Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the Superior Court to have at least 15 years as an attorney prior to appointment. The current law requires 10 years

Chairman Nick Scutari (D-Linden) and state Sen. Gerry Cardinale (R-Demarest) sponsor the bipartisan bill, but they had cross-aisle opposition.

State Sen. Brian Stack (D-Union City) said many successful judges who did not have the proposed requirement of 15 years in law before being appointed.

His colleague, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Middletown), argued for lessening the requirement to five or seven years.

State Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Cedar Grove) said the law – which needs public ballot approval – lacks a “compelling argument” usually present for constitutional amendments.

The bill was removed from the agenda, and Scutari said he and Cardinale would review it.


Senate judiciary approves Hunterdon prosecutor