Governor Murphy, thank you for this heartfelt and wonderful introduction and for the extraordinary honor of appointing me Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Thank you for the confidence you have shown in me. As a sitting judge of eighteen years, I am fully aware of the enormous responsibility that rests with our justices of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, a court with a national reputation for exceptional judicial distinction. Your confidence inspires me to be the best version of who I can be. Thanks.
I also extend my thanks to the Governor’s staff, in particular his Chief Counsel, whom I have come to know during this process. The Chief Counsel, like the Governor, cares deeply about our judicial system and the independent role it plays in our system of tripartite governance. It was an honor for me to interact with you.
Former Chief Justice Zazzali and members of the Governor’s Judicial Advisory Committee thank you for your support of this appointment. I have enormous respect and admiration for each of you. You have served with distinction; your example is exemplary.
I look forward to meeting with members of the New Jersey State Committee on Prosecutors and Appointments, meeting with Senate Speaker Scutari, Senate Judiciary Chairman Stack and other members of the Senate, as the Senate assumes its constitutional obligation to provide its advice and consent. And I’m especially happy that Senate President Scutari is here today. Thanks.
I wish my parents were alive to witness this moment. I can only imagine their reaction to my selection by Governor Murphy for the Supreme Court. I suspect that would be unimaginable.
My parents taught me the values of discipline, hard work, and perseverance, to name a few, and I believe my accomplishments stem from the values they imposed on me. I’m lucky to have them. I am their legacy and I am the product of humble roots.
My father was born in a small village of about 300 people located in the Aspromante mountain range near Reggio Calabria, Italy. At age seven, he and his mother crossed the Atlantic Ocean to join his father, who had arrived several years earlier on Ellis Island to begin his own carpentry career. They were looking for a better life and to live the American dream. After enlisting in the Navy in World War II and serving on the battleship USS Texas for several years, my father played music professionally, earned a college degree and master’s degree, and then became an educator. His big band name was “The Esquires,” which is ironic considering I became a lawyer. Who knows, maybe the arc of my career was predestined. And ma, who lived to her 90s, worked at home and then became a seamstress in a department store. My two sisters and I made their dreams come true.
Teresa, to whom I have been married for thirty-one years and who is a lawyer at Riker Danzig, and I have two wonderful sons, both of whom have chosen the legal profession as a career. One is a recent graduate of Seton Hall Law School and the other is a sophomore at Seton Hall Law School. They too embody the American dream. We are so proud of them.
I wanted to be a lawyer very young. I studied pre-law history in college, not to learn historical dates, but rather to extrapolate important lessons from that history. My thirst for legal knowledge continues as I am currently pursuing my Masters in Forensic Studies at Duke Law School which is a rigorous discipline Prestigious three-year advanced degree for state, federal, and international judges. It is the only LLM program of its type in the country.
As someone who spent seventeen years as a trial attorney and prosecutor in the courts of New Jersey, and then eighteen years as a judge at various levels of our court system, I have dedicated my entire career to our state’s legal system. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to continue this service by serving on the highest court in our state. Thank you once again Governor for this incredible honour.