Fulop Says More Time, Letter to Be Given to Council for Judicial Nominee Review Process; Appoints New Chief Muni Court Judge

City Hall

With a review process for judicial nominees based on giving “ample time” to the Council between the time of an appointment’s announcement and a Council vote, Mayor Steve Fulop says he’s solved transparency issues that plagued previous administrations.

Fulop’s process will be tested immediately, with the new mayor announcing he will be appointing Carlo Abad as the new Chief Municipal Court Judge — he will be the city’s first Filipino-American to head the court — and Mark Curtis as a full-time judge. The administration says the Council will have been given six weeks before the vote on the appointments.

Former Mayor Jerramiah Healy had tried to appoint Abad and former At-Large Councilman Ray Velazquez, only to have the Council reject the move behind a Fulop-led effort to underscore the lack of a process. At the time, Healy said the rejection was political grandstanding, though it may have resonated with some voters as Healy was voted out of office a few months later.

The new process will require providing a resume and letter to the Council with the candidate’s full background and credentials, according to the statement, with an “ample” amount of time being defined as “ideally a month or greater” before a vote.

“Both Carlo Abad and Mark Curtis have outstanding records and we are confident in their ability to serve our Municipal Court, which is one of the busiest in the state,” Fulop said in a statement. “Additionally, we recognize the value of having leadership in our court and throughout city government that represents our city’s great diversity.”

Abad has been serving as Acting Chief Municipal Court Judge since the Council rejected making the appointment permanent back in February. Abad has been serving on the bench in Jersey City since 2008, which followed his work in the Newark Prosecutor’s Office, the Jersey City Prosecutor’s Office, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as well as working in several private law firms.

Curtis, a graduate of Seton Hall University Law School, has served as a Jersey City municipal prosecutor and long-time attorney practicing in Jersey City and Hudson County, according to the statement.

“The prior administration had no process or protocol in place for such important appointments to our Court and municipal boards,” Fulop’s statement continued. “Instead, they would expect the City Council to make immediate decisions on a candidate without a full or proper review. This is something we pledged to change and we have.”

JCI File photo

Matt Hunger

is a former staff writer for the Jersey City Independent.