TRENTON – Outgoing Board of Public Utilities President Lee Solomon was approved for a seat on the Camden County Superior Court today by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Solomon and six other nominated judges will go before the entire Senate on Thursday for final approval.
State Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-40), of Cedar Grove, called Solomon a “rare breed, especially today, a pure public servant.”
Jokingly, Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-22), of Linden, asked Solomon, “How do you do it? How do you get so many governors to nominate you all over the place?”
Solomon, who is returning to the bench within the two year window that allows him to continue building his pension, said, “I’ve been lucky…I’ve been around long enough to wear them down.”
Six other judges were approved in near unanimous votes. The only candidate that generated extensive discussion today was Camden County Superior Court nominee Nan Famular, who currently serves in the Family Court division.
A few disgruntled litigants testified that Famular was, at times during her service, discriminatory and procedurally out of order.
Terrance Johnson told the committee that Famular had “no respect for litigants.”
She told the panel, “My response is that I find that comment made about me to be ridiculous…I assure the members of this committee that there is no transcript…that would indicate any bias in any category. Any litigant, in any proceeding from day one.”
State Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-39), of Demarest, asked whether Famular ever had any formal complaints submitted against her, which she had not. Casting his vote in favor of the nominee, state Sen. Kip Bateman (R-16), of Branchburg, said he thinks it may be part of the “nature” of being a family court judge to have some former litigants lodging complaints.
State Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-40), of Cedar Grove, followed up on the complaints and found that in one case – unrelated to any discriminatory allegations – the nominee was guilty, in his opinion, of a paperwork and scheduling mix-up in one trial.
“I find that to be your mistake and your error as opposed to staff error,” he said, but was satisfied with Famular’s answers to the other allegations. O’Toole asked Scutari to review transcripts that Johnson said he would forward in regards to the allegations, which the chairman agreed to do. Scutari said he could bring the nomination back before the full Senate votes on it if he finds anything egregious in those transcripts.
“Those were some serious allegations judge,” Scutari said, but he was impressed with her answers and regarded the allegations as “fairly uncorroborated at this time.”
Other judicial nominees approved by the committee were Allison Accurso, Peter Bariso, Timothy Chell, Michael Hubner, and Sheila Venable.