Gov. Phil Murphy has nominated Michael Noriega to be the next justice on the state Supreme Court, who if confirmed would be the first former public defender to sit on New Jersey's top court.
Noriega, 45, of Fanwood, is a longtime immigration lawyer and criminal defense attorney. He would replace Barry Albin, who retired last July after 19 years on the bench. Since that time, Appellate Court Judge Jack Sabatino has been temporarily filling that seat.
The Democratic governor announced his choice Monday. The nomination will first be considered by the state Senate Judiciary Committee and, if they approve, the full senate would then hold a confirmation vote.
Noriega is a partner with the Scotch Plains-based law firm of Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold and Mangan. The firm's principals include state Sen. Jon Bramnick, a Republican from Union County who called Noriega "an attorney of immense integrity."
The son of Peruvian immigrants, Noriega was born in Weehawken and was raised in Union City. He graduated from Rutgers University and received his law degree from Seton Hall, where he has also served as an adjunct law professor. He was an assistant deputy public defender in Essex County from 2003 to 2008.
Noriega and his wife, Melissa, a school psychologist, are the parents of four daughters.