Senate Judiciary releases several Superior Court judge nominations

Three Superior Court judgeship nominations have been released this morning in the Senate Judiciary: Thomas M. Brown of West Trenton, Mercer County; Mark P. Ciarrocca of Westfield, Union County; and Melanie Donohue Appleby of Toms River, Ocean County.

Sens. Nicholas Scutari, (D-22), Linden, and Nia Gill, (D-34), Montclair, did question Appleby’s lack of courtroom experience. She said she primarily has handled insurance defense work, conducted depositions, argued before appellate benches, but only has had one bench trial since being admitted to the bar in 1994.

Gill and Sen. Jennifer Beck, (R-12), Red Bank, said this committee has released nominees before who lacked courtroom experience. Gill said this is a “disservice,’’ but Beck said she wanted to ensure the committee is not holding Appleby to a standard different from other nominees.

Gill, who referenced Appleby’s use of interrogatories – standardized forms – as evidence of her experience, voted no.

Committee Chairman Scutari, who voted yes, said the standard is not different at all, he was aware of her lack of experience but placed her on the agenda because he was impressed with her biography and temperament. Temperament, he said, he considers even more important a qualification than trial experience – a close second – for a judicial candidate.

Senate Judiciary releases several Superior Court judge nominations