BY TOM HESTER SR.
Judge Edwin H. Stern, head of the state Superior Court Appellate Division, Wednesday was named to temporarily fill the seat left vacant on the state Supreme Court by Gov. Chris Christie's decision not to reappoint Justice John E. Wallace in May and the Democratic legislative leadership's refusal to appoint attorney Anne Patterson as his replacement.
Stern, who comes from a Democratic background, was appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. No time limit has been placed on how long Stern will serve. He is facing mandatory retirement in 2011 but Democrats have maintained they will not consider Patterson's nomination until March 2012 when Wallace was due to retire.Rabner offered no comment on Stern's appointment. Instead, Radner only issued an order declaring the appointment.
Stern emerged as a face in the New Jersey legal system as Hudson County first assistant prosecutor from 1970 to 1973 and then as acting prosecutor from 1973 to 1974. From 1974 to 1977, he was the state court system's director of criminal practice. As a state deputy attorney general, Stern was actively involved in the drafting and implementation of the state's Code of Criminal Justice.
Democratic Gov. Brendan Byrne appointed Stern to the Superior Court in 1981 and was reappointed by Republican Gov. Thomas H. Kean. Stern heard cases in Jersey City and Newark. He became an Appellate Court judge in 1985 and was named presiding judge in 1998.
As the presiding judge, Stern oversees 35 judges who handle approximately 7,000 appeals and 7,500 motions annually.
Over the course of his judicial career, Stern has authored more than 3,000 opinions, including more than 400 published opinions. He has been active in education and on many Supreme Court committees. He chaired the Supreme Court's first Task Force on Juvenile Justice in the mid-1970s. He currently chairs the Criminal Practice Committee.
On the national stage, Stern is a member of the Council of Chief Judges of Courts of Appeal, which is associated with the National Center of State Courts. He is chair of the council's Administration of Justice Committee and is a member of the American Law Institute.
Stern was born in June 1941. He is a 1966 graduate of Columbia University Law School and received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers University in 1963.