In Brief

With Legislature in recess, N.J. Supreme Court justice delays retirement

By: - July 29, 2021 7:00 am

The bill faces an unclear path in the Legislature. (Photo by Chris Boswell/Getty Images)

New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Jaynee LaVecchia is delaying her retirement date until the state Legislature returns to approve her replacement, according to a statement released by the courts.

She had planned to retire on Aug. 30 in advance of the new court session, which begins Sept. 1. But with the Legislature on an extended recess — the Senate, which must confirm LaVecchia’s successor, is not expected to convene again until after November’s elections — LaVecchia agreed to remain on the bench, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said Wednesday.

“Recent public statements have confirmed that confirmation hearings will not be held until after Election Day,” Rabner said in the statement. “By around that time, the Supreme Court will have heard oral argument in about 40% of the cases for the 2021-22 term.”

LaVecchia will not remain on the bench past Dec. 31, Rabner said.

LaVecchia, 66, was nominated to the state’s top court by former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and began serving as the panel’s lone independent justice in February 2000. She could have served another three years before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.

After she originally announced her retirement in March, Gov. Phil Murphy nominated Rachel Wainer Apter, once a law clerk to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to serve as an associate justice.

Apter is Murphy’s second nomination to the state Supreme Court. In June 2020, Fabiana Pierre-Louis was named as the first Black woman to serve on the court, and third Black justice in the state’s history. The state Senate confirmed her nomination in August 2020.

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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.