The newest justice on the New Jersey Supreme Court was confirmed this week by a vote of 39-0. Fabiana Pierre Louis will take the seat of Justice Walter Timpone, who is retiring after just over four years on the Court. He is retiring a few months shy of the mandatory retirement age of 70. Pierre-Louis, by contrast, joins the Court as a 39 year old. Governor Murphy effused that she will potentially serve “for decades to come.”
A former partner in the Cherry Hill office of Montgomery, McCracken, Walker and Rhoads, she previously worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and served as the attorney-in-charge of the U.S. Attorney’s Camden branch. A graduate of Rutgers-Camden Law School, she clerked for Justice John Wallace.
Although her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was largely without controversy, she faced questions regarding her apparent advocacy on issues that might come before the Court. On the day her nomination was announced, she wore an orange ribbon associated with an advocacy group that promotes policy changes that include extending liability to gun manufacturers for those injured by criminal gun violence. She responded that she had believed the ribbon was only to honor of gun violence victims.
She gave few clues regarding her judicial philosophy. Asked if she agreed with the analogy that a judge should act like an umpire, calling balls or strikes and not advocating for one team, she replied, “I think it simplifies the role of a judge. If you put ten umpires in a room and they look at the same close pitch, half might say it’s a ball, half might say it’s a strike.”
Senator Scutari, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said that Pierre-Louis could be sworn-in in the next few days, and should be on the Court by September 1, when the Court reconvenes.