Hundreds honor New Jersey’s new Supreme Court justice

As wife Dianne Solomon

As wife Dianne Solomon

State lawmaker, Camden County prosecutor, president of the state Board of Public Utilities, Superior Court judge.

Those are just some of the posts Lee Solomon has held during his long and varied career in New Jersey public life.

As of June, he was given another title to add to his resume: associate state Supreme Court justice.

On Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of Solomon’s friends and colleagues packed inside in the Collingswood Scottish Rite theater for his ceremonial swearing-in.

“I never dreamed that I was supposed to be or could ever be here. I had no plan. This has been incredible. I do believe that a career is not a straight line, but I do believe you end up where you’re supposed to be,” said Solomon.

The 59-year-old was praised throughout the nearly two-hour event for his quirkiness, unique background and love of the law.

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said Solmon’s “extraordinary depth of experience” would be a real asset in his latest job as he’s wrestled with the law from both sides of the bench and the New Jersey Legislature.

“When he looks at a criminal or a civil dispute, he’ll approach it from the vantage point of a private practitioner, of a prosecutor, of a head of a government agency. When he examines the words of a statue, he’ll do so as one who has served in the legislature, having written and sponsored legislation,” said Rabner.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said Solmon’s character also makes him a good fit for “one of the best high courts in the nation.”

“Lee Solomon is someone of high intelligence, integrity, and honesty. Lee is just a special person,” said Sweeney.

Solomon was nominated by Gov. Chris Christie, a former colleague when Christie was New Jersey’s U.S. attorney.

His appointment restores some geographical balance to the court, which has been dominated by North Jersey justices for years.

The Supreme Court’s seventh and final spot still has not been permanently filled, as neither Republicans nor Democrats appear interested in further upsetting the political balance of the bench.

There are currently three Republicans, two Democrats and one Independent justice.

“That will probably continue because it seems as though the governor will not nominate a Democrat and the Senate will not confirm a Republican,” said professor Richard Williams, who teaches at Rutgers School of Law in Camden.

Solomon, a Republican, was nominated after Christie, a Republican, and Sweeney, a Democrat, agreed in May to end a four-year battle over political balance on the bench.

During that stretch, Christie didn’t renominate a pair of sitting justices, while Sweeney led efforts to block several Christie nominees.

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