Murphy taps his chief counsel, Matt Platkin, to serve as N.J.’s next attorney general

Matt Platkin speaks at a podium

Matt Platkin speaks at the podium, in Trenton, NJ, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Mike Catalini)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has nominated Matt Platkin to serve as the next attorney general.

Platkin said his top priorities are preventing gun violence, guaranteeing civil rights, and policing and mental health reform.

A lawyer who has worked in New York City and on Capitol Hill, Platkin began serving as chief counsel to the governor in 2018, and Murphy said he played a “critical role in guiding the state” during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ve seen his intellect, his work ethic, his commitment to good governance, and his ethical sense of right and wrong,” Murphy said. “As my first chief counsel, he was my primary advisor on all of our administration’s legal matters, and spearheaded many of our policy initiatives, including gun safety, voting rights, and the rights of those left at society’s margins.”

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At a ceremony on Thursday to announce his nomination, Platkin elaborated on the statewide issues he said he wanted to address. He said ultimately, he plans to keep all residents safe.

“This means in particular, and in particular right now, bringing all necessary resources to bear to prevent violent crime,” Platkin said. “And because most violent crime involves firearms, we will use every tool at our disposal to tackle the root causes of gun violence, including by holding those accountable who foster gun violence in our communities.”

He also touched on the role law enforcement officers play in situations dealing with addiction and mental health.

“We will recognize and seek to relieve the often overwhelming burden we have placed on law enforcement, to not only prevent crime, but to serve as addiction and mental health counselors, all while handling a global pandemic,” Platkin said.

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Platkin was born and raised in the Garden State, spending his early years in Morristown and Florham Park. He studied law at Stanford University and later went to work for Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City.

Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle applauded the choice.

“Matt Platkin worked closely with the Legislature during his time as chief counsel and I am confident he will continue to be a valuable and reliable partner from the Attorney General’s Office,” said Sen. Gordon Johnson (D-37), a veteran lawmaker who has worked in law enforcement. “I look forward to working with Matt to increase diversity in our police departments, fight discrimination in our workplaces, curb the rise in hate crimes across the state and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

Republican Senate Deputy Leader Bob Singer also supported Platkin’s nomination.

“Matt is an extremely talented attorney with years of public service experience. In the past we have cooperated on issues that affect my Legislative District, and I am looking forward to working with him as he begins the important business of the Attorney General’s Office,” Singer said.

However, some lawmakers expressed concern with Murphy’s pick, citing Platkin’s record on emergency executive powers during the coronavirus pandemic

“I’m concerned that Matt Platkin was the counsel who advised Murphy to govern by executive order and overbearing mandates for the past two years,” said Sen. Kristen Corrado (R-40). “On emergency powers, we need someone who shares the views of New Jerseyans that it’s time for Gov. Murphy to give it back.”

Platklin will serve as the state’s 62nd attorney general.

He will begin serving as acting attorney general on Feb. 14. The Senate must confirm his nomination before he can officially serve in the role.

Platkin will take over for Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck, who has been in the role since last July after Gurbir Grewal left the post for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Bruck issued a statement on Thursday afternoon.

“Matt Platkin isn’t just an exceptional lawyer and a dedicated public servant, he’s also a friend. I know that he’s going to do a fantastic job as New Jersey’s 62nd attorney general, and it’ll be my privilege to hand the reins over to him later this month,” Bruck said.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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