Starting in January, New Jersey businesses will have the option of having their high dollar, and thus presumably more complex, disputes heard by judges who have been specially assigned to the state’s new Complex Business Litigation Program.
According to the court’s announcement about the program, the judges assigned:
will receive additional training in relevant areas of the law, such as the Uniform Commercial Code, securities, anti-racketeering, and business valuation. They also will receive additional training in effective case and trial management, e-discovery, and other relevant topics…Each participating judge will be expected to issue at least two written opinions annually, which will be posted at njcourts.com. Together with the previously posted business-related decisions, the opinions will comprise a substantial legal resource for the business community.
The announcement also provided a list of the judges who have been selected to serve as the state’s inaugural class of complex business jurists. Below is that list by county, with added information about the judges’ backgrounds.
Judge J. Christopher Gibson (primary) – Gibson joined the court in March 2012. His current term ends on March 16, 2019. If he is reappointed he may serve until 2041. He graduated from Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Del. Before joining the court, he was a partner in the Wildwood firm of Barry, Corrado, Grassi & Gibson.
Judge James P. Savio (backup) – Savio, an alumni of Seton Hall Law, worked in private practice and served as a municipal judge before he was appointed to his current judgeship in 2009. His current term ends on July 2, 2016. If he is reappointed he may serve until 2022.
Judge Robert C. Wilson – Wilson is a veteran business court judge, having overseen the Bergen county pilot program the new statewide program is replacing. He joined the court in 1999 and was reappointed for tenure status in 2006. His mandatory retirement date is 2024. Wilson attended New York Law School.
Civil Presiding Judge Marc M. Baldwin – Baldwin joined the court in 2000 and was reappointed for tenure in 2007. The Rutgers-Camden alum faces mandatory retirement in 2017.
Judge Michael J. Kassel – Kassel worked in private practice and as a prosecutor before joining the court in 2001. He was reappointed in 2008, and has a mandatory retirement date of 2027. Kassel earned his law degree at Rutgers-Camden.
Judge James S. Rothschild Jr. – Rothschild was appointed to the court in 2002, and granted tenure in 2009. After graduating from Yale Law School, he worked at Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti, where he attained partner status. His mandatory retirement date is 2016.
Judge Barry Sarkisian – Sarkisian, a graduate of New York Law School, joined the bench in 2005 and was granted tenure in 2012. His mandatory retirement date is 2018. Prior to becoming a judge, he founded a law firm with State Senator Bernard Kenny and Edward Florio.
General Equity Presiding Judge Paul Innes – Innes graduated from the University of Villanova School of Law. After graduation, he split his time between private practice at Hartsough, Kenny and Innes in Princeton and serving as a prosecutor. He was appointed to the court in 1995 and was granted tenure in 2002. His mandatory retirement date is 2025.
Assignment Judge Travis L. Francis – Francis was appointed to the court in 1992 and reappointed for tenure in 1999. The Rutgers-Newark alum’s mandatory retirement date is 2021. Before joining the bench, he worked in private practice at a firm and as a solo practitioner. He also served as a public defender and worked in-house at Prudential Insurance.
Judge Katie A. Gummer – Gummer is relatively new to the bench, having been appointed in 2013. She is up for reappointment in 2020 and if reappointed would face mandatory retirement in 2034. The Yale alum was a partner at DLA Piper before joining the bench.
Morris and Sussex Counties
General Equity Presiding Judge Stephan C. Hansbury – Hansbury has been a judge since 2001. He was granted tenure in 2007, and faces mandatory retirement in 2016. After graduating from Seton Hall Law School, he worked in private practice.
Judge Thomas J. LaConte – LaConte was appointed to the court in 2005, and granted tenure in 2012. The Rutgers-Newark alum faces mandatory retirement in 2018. Prior to joining the court, he was a partner at Cole, Schotz, Meisel, Forman & Leonard.
Judge Thomas J. Walsh – Walsh worked as an assistant prosecutor, then spent nearly 20 years as a trial attorney working in criminal, civil and family divisions before joining the court in 2010. He attended law school at the City University of New York. He is up for reappointment in 2017, and if reappointed would face mandatory retirement in 2029.
Somerset, Warren, and Hunterdon Counties
Assignment Judge Yolanda Ciccone – Ciccone joined the court in 1991 and was granted tenure in 1998. After graduating from Seton Hall Law School, she served as the Assistant Prosecutor of Middlesex County. Her mandatory retirement date is 2024.
Civil Presiding Judge Craig L. Wellerson – Wellerson, a Case Western Reserve alum, was appointed to the court in 2001 and reappointed in 2007. He faces mandatory retirement in 2027. Prior to joining the court, Wellerson was a partner at Dasti, Murphy, Wellerson & McGuckin.
Cumberland, Salem, and Gloucester Counties
Judge Richard J. Geiger – Geiger was appointed to the court in 2002 and granted tenure in 2009. The Rutgers-Camden alum’s mandatory retirement date is 2023. Prior to joining the court he was a partner at Davidow, Sherman, Eddowes & Geiger.