State Bar on Hoens’ departure: Court’s independence at risk

TRENTON – The head of the state Bar Association criticized Gov. Chris Christie Monday for deciding not to renominate a state Supreme Court justice.

In a statement, President Ralph Lamparello said that Christie’s decision to deny tenure for Justice Helen Hoens erodes the court’s independence and “smacks of political one upsmanship.’’

Christie said he would not renominate Hoens because Senate Democrats had made it clear they would oppose it and he was not going to subject her to the same treatment previous unsuccessful Supreme Court nominees Phil Kwon and Bruce Harris endured.

Hoens issued a statement this afternoon in which she took the high road and expressed gratitude for her time on the court, but Lamparello harshly criticized Christie later today.

“Governor Christie has now twice broken with 60 years of tradition and ignored the clear intention of the framers of our 1947 Constitution to create a strong and independent judiciary, what former U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist called the ‘crown jewel’ of our democracy,” Lamparello said.

The first instance Lamparello was referring to was the decision by Christie not to renominate Justice John Wallace.

“The result of today’s action will be further erosion of the independence of our courts, whose role as the third branch of government is to balance the other two branches and to protect the rights of the citizens of this state,” Lamparello said.

State Bar on Hoens’ departure: Court’s independence at risk