Ex-Justice Wallace to head N.J. ethics panel

John E. Wallace Jr.
John E. Wallace Jr.
Posted: August 02, 2013

Former state Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace Jr., who left the court after Gov. Christie refused to renominate him in 2010, has been chosen by Democratic legislative leaders to chair a committee that reviews ethics complaints against lawmakers.

Wallace, a Gloucester County resident who was the only African American on the seven-member court, will replace Alan Rosenthal - a Rutgers University professor who died last month - as chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards.

"If there is anyone who can fill Alan's shoes, it is Justice John Wallace," Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) said in a statement Wednesday. He said Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D., Essex) also approved the appointment.

Wallace "has a reputation for being an independent, even-tempered justice who takes a scholarly approach to the law," Sweeney said. "He will be an outstanding chairman."

Sweeney criticized Christie after the governor refused to reappoint Wallace - the first sitting state justice seeking reappointment to fail to receive it under the current state constitution.

Christie had said that Wallace was part of an activist Supreme Court, and that he wanted balance. Sweeney said at the time that he was "personally outraged" by the decision.

Wallace, a Harvard Law School graduate, was appointed to Superior Court in 1984 and confirmed to the Supreme Court in 2003, according to a biography on the website of Brown & Connery, the South Jersey and Philadelphia law firm where he works. He could not be reached Wednesday.

The Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards comprises eight public members and investigates violations of state ethics rules. In 2012 and 2013, the committee received complaints against nine lawmakers, according to the Office of Legislative Services.

In years past, the committee also included eight legislators, but it underwent an overhaul in 2008 as part of an ethics package.


Contact Maddie Hanna at 856-779-3232 or mhanna@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @maddiehanna.

 

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