Governor Christie announced the nomination of Judge Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina to replace Justice Helen Hoens on the State Supreme Court during a press conference at the State House this afternoon.
Hoens, who was up for reappointment after seven years, will not be re-nominated, Christie said, because State Senator Ray Lesniak, a senior Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently said that Hoens would not be reconfirmed as political retribution for Christie not re-nominating Justice John Wallace in 2010. Christie said that Hoens took the news as a professional and thanked him for not putting her through an arduous and fruitless re-confirmation hearing. Hoen’s term expires in late October.
There are currently two vacancies, of seven positions, on the State Supreme Court. Christie nominated Monmouth County Judge David F. Bauman and Board of Public Utilities President Robert Hanna to fill those vacancies in December of last year. The Democratically controlled State Senate has not acted on their nominations, despite the fact that both men have been previously confirmed by the Senate for their current positions.
If all three of Christie’s current nominees are confirmed, a majority of the Court, 4 Justices, will be Christie appointees. Justice Anne M. Patterson was nominated by Christie in May of 2010. She was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in 19 months later in September of 2011.
Judge Fernandez-Vina, a Cuban-American and a Republican, was first nominated to the Superior Court in Camden County by Governor Jim McGreevey in 2004. He was re-nominated by Christie an reconfirmed by the Senate in 2011. In 2012, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, a Corzine appointee, named Fernandez-Vina the Assignment Judge of the Camden County Vicinage.