Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson, author of the best-selling Boardwalk Empire, which was turned into an award-winning HBO television series, has written a new book about New Jersey judicial history, Battleground New Jersey: Vanderbilt, Hague, and Their Fight for Justice. Its publication also means good news for the New Jersey State Bar Foundation.
With Garden State jurists prohibited from earning income outside their judicial roles, publisher Rutgers University Press and Judge Johnson have announced that half the proceeds from the sales of Battleground New Jersey will go to the Foundation, the leading provider of violence prevention and anti-bullying programs in the state as well as mock trial programs for children from kindergarten through 12th grade. The other half of the proceeds will go to Stockton College.
Foundation president Louis Miron was deeply gratified by the generous gesture.
“We were thrilled and excited that Judge Johnson thought of us,” Miron said in a written statement. “[His] recognition of the Foundation’s work in educating the public about the law, the justice system and violence prevention – especially during these times when funding for these important programs is scarce – is truly appreciated.”
Judge Johnson’s latest book tells the intertwined stories of two dissimilar but key power brokers whose fierce mutual animosity figured prominently in the evolution of New Jersey’s courts from a system riddled with injustice and corruption to one of the most highly regarded in the country, culminating in the historic adoption of the 1947 New Jersey Constitution. Those colorful figures were law school dean Arthur T. Vanderbilt, the first modern-era chief justice; and his nemesis Frank Hague, a sixth-grade dropout who made good and then some, becoming Jersey City mayor and a political force to be reckoned with.
The book has earned praise from critics and jurists, with former Gov. James Florio praising the “enjoyable romp” that “brings to life people and events from an important era” with which many people are not familiar. Retired Judge L. Anthony Gibson proclaims the book “a compelling narrative that both illuminates and entertains.”
To learn more about or purchase Battleground New Jersey, go to rutgerspress.rutgers.edu. It can also be purchased at Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble stores. To donate directly to the Foundation, please visit njsbf.org.