By Matt Katz | The Philadelphia Inquirer
Gov. Christie’s attempt to overhaul the New Jersey Supreme Court will finally get under way Tuesday, when confirmation hearings begin for a North Jersey corporate lawyer he nominated to the bench more than a year ago.
“She certainly understands the concerns of business as they relate to the law,” said Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance. That could signal a new approach in a state that some believe has favored plaintiffs in lawsuits against corporations.
For Christie, Anne M. Patterson’s audience with the state Senate Judiciary Committee couldn’t happen soon enough. Last week, the court ruled in favor of additional funding for 31 poor school districts, sending the Republican governor what he called an unauthorized “invoice” for $500 million.
A review of Patterson’s history as a lawyer indicates that the governor, who has fashioned himself as a probusiness conservative who opposes activist judges he says overstep their bounds, may have found a kindred spirit.
At the Morristown, N.J., firm Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti, Patterson has defended the manufacturers of guns, tobacco, lead paint, and pharmaceuticals against allegations that their products have harmed people and communities. Her work in product and corporate liability has helped establish legal precedents that could protect corporations in the future.