Days before stepping down as New Jersey governor, Jon Corzine has nominated 15 state judges and one county prosecutor, doing so on the same day he ended weeks of wrangling with Gov.-elect Chris Christie over the selection of higher-profile posts.
In exchange for allowing the judicial nominations and dozens of others, Corzine abandoned several high-profile nominations, leaving it to the governor-elect to name new members to the Board of Public Utilities, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NJ Transit and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, and others.
The agreement between Corzine and Christie almost assures that the state Senate will approve all 16 nominees — four Superior Court judges, seven administrative law judges, four workers' compensation judges and a prosecutor — before the session ends next week.
If they pass the Senate Judiciary Committee, they would then go to the full Senate for consideration.
The Superior Court judges Corzine announced Tuesday are Hany Mawla and Alberto Rivas from Middlesex County, Robert Kirsch from Union County and Esther Suarez from Passaic County.
Mawla, 36, is a partner at Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith and Davis in Woodbridge. He serves on the state Commission on Civil Rights and on the Arab and Muslim Advisory Committee for the state Attorney General's Office.
Mawla, of North Brunswick, is a lecturer in Middle East studies in Rutgers University's Department of Political Science in New Brunswick.
Rivas, 49, of Perth Amboy, is a partner in the Newark law firm Lite, DePalma, Greenberg & Rivas. He served as a federal prosecutor, becoming deputy chief of the criminal division under then-U.S. Attorney Samuel Alito, who is now associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Rivas was city attorney for Perth Amboy under former mayor and Assemblyman Joseph Vas. He briefly represented former Perth Amboy city official Melvin Ramos, who was indicted along with Vas, on corruption charges.
Kirsch, 43, of Westfield, is an assistant U.S. attorney specializing in white collar fraud. He is expected to fill the vacancy created by retired Superior Court Judge John Triarsi, who served in the criminal division. After serving as a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice, Kirsch joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark, where he has handled dozens of white-collar fraud cases.
Suarez, 39, is county counsel for Bergen and counsel and chief of staff for the Union City Parking Authority.
The Wayne resident has a solo practice, where she represents the Union City Board of Education, and has served as corporation counsel for the city of Hoboken.
Corzine's pick for Cumberland County prosecutor, Jennifer Webb-McCrae, would become the first female to lead that office. Webb-McCrae, who would succeed Ron Casella, opened a law practice in Bridgeton last fall, after serving six years as assistant deputy public defender for New Jersey.
The nominees for administrative law judge are: Hudson County resident Michael Antoniewicz, Mercer County resident Robert Bingham, Union County resident Leland McGee, Camden County resident John Spence Jr., Essex County resident Kimberly Moss, Passaic County resident Tahesha Way and Middlesex County resident Tiffany Williams.
Rounding out the nominees are the four workers' compensation judges: George Gangloff Jr., of Gloucester County, E. Elaine Voyles of Salem County, Vicki Citrino of Passaic County and Allen Papp of Middlesex County.
Staff writers Tom Haydon and Julie O'Connor contributed to this report.