Judge nominated to be Camco prosecutor

Judge Mary Colalillo has been nominated to replace Warren Faulk as Camden County prosecutor.
Judge Mary Colalillo has been nominated to replace Warren Faulk as Camden County prosecutor.
Posted: June 05, 2014

A veteran Superior Court judge nominated to take over as the Camden County prosecutor will be the first woman to lead that office if confirmed.

Mary Eva Colalillo, 62, of Haddonfield, is currently a presiding judge in the chancery division sitting in Camden County, and was the first woman there to hold that position.

Colalillo - with experience in litigating civil and criminal cases - has been nominated to take the place of Warren Faulk, whose five-year term was extended into a sixth year pending a new appointment.

Gary Boguski, president of the Camden County Bar Association, said Colalillo has a strong reputation and a high level of integrity.

"In the 38 years that I've known her, I haven't heard one person say anything that is not exemplary," Boguski said. He added that he has five daughters and finds it encouraging to see a woman nominated for the position.

Boguski said Colalillo is filled with "fresh energy." He also said she is "outgoing while not coming off as pushy." She is "smart, pleasant, and rules effectively on the bench," Boguski said. In addition, he said, she has been supportive of the bar over the years, leading a committee for women in the profession that mentors young lawyers.

News of the nomination spread through the Prosecutor's Office in recent days. The office has among the highest caseloads in the state in a city ranked as the most dangerous in the country.

Faulk had been appointed in 2008 by former Gov. Jon S. Corzine after several years of turbulence and turnover in the Prosecutor's Office.

"Prosecutor Faulk is looking forward to working with Judge Colalillo in her transition into the Prosecutor's Office," said Jason Laughlin, spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

In private practice, Colalillo worked on a wide range of cases, including personal injury and malpractice. She spent four years as an assistant prosecutor in Camden beginning in 1980.

Colalillo was appointed to the bench in 1993 and received tenure in 2000. In 2005, she was appointed as the presiding judge in the civil division, and in 2007 appointed as a presiding chancery and equity judge, where she currently remains.

Citing judicial rules, Colalillo declined to comment on the nomination through her office staff.

Colalillo was nominated by the governor and must be confirmed by the New Jersey Senate. It was not clear Tuesday when confirmation hearings and a vote would be scheduled.

Colalillo received her law degree from Vermont Law School in 1976, and her undergraduate degree from Georgian Court College in 1973. She is a 1969 graduate of Haddonfield High School.

In addition to her work in private practice and as an assistant prosecutor, Colalillo had worked for the law department in Camden.

Faulk had been in private practice when he was appointed to a five-year term. There was extreme political tension at time after a state takeover of the Camden Police Department. During his term, Faulk became supportive of dismantling the city police force to create the current Camden County Metro Police Department.

"There were a lot of challenges in the last six years," Laughlin said. Budget cuts led to furloughs and a staff reduction that included two layoffs and left several positions open.

The prosecutor oversees a $22 million budget with about 240 employees, including more than 60 prosecutors. Faulk was outspoken when cuts were so deep that it appeared as many as 60 people could be fired, and then when the Camden Police Department had a large number of layoffs that Faulk said threatened the safety of those in the city.

State Sen. Donald Norcross commended Faulk's work.

"He has turned that city into a major issue in terms of turning around crime," Norcross said Tuesday after Colalillo's nomination was announced.

Shortly after Faulk took office in 2008, a 4-year-old boy was fatally shot in the head running for his mother during a gun battle. Two gunmen were convicted.

The office also prosecuted 10 gang members for the slayings of a Burlington County couple beaten to death in a Camden rowhouse.

Perhaps the most difficult of prosecutions, Laughlin said, was five members of an elite narcotics squad accused of corruption. Three officers and a supervisor were convicted, and one officer was acquitted. In addition, about 200 criminal cases investigated by the officers were dismissed or overturned.


Staff writer Michael Boren also contributed to this article.



bboyer@phillynews.com

856-779-3838 @BBBoyer

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