First Fil-Am Chief Municipal Court Judge Appointed; Mayor Unveils New Court Appointments Policy

JERSEY CITY – Mayor Steven M. Fulop announced today (August 22) the appointment of Jersey City’s first Filipino-American Chief Municipal Court Judge, Carlo Abad, and new full-time Judge Mark Curtis.  With the new appointments, Mayor Fulop also outlined the process for presenting court appointments to the City Council for confirmation.

“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,” said Mayor Fulop.  “Additionally, we recognize the value of having leadership in our court and throughout city government that represents our city’s great diversity.”

Prior to the municipal election in May, then-Mayor Jerramiah Healy attempted to appoint Abad as Chief Judge to succeed outgoing Nesle Rodriguez and Radames Velasquez, a former Jersey City At-Large Councilman to replace Abad as full-time judge. However, the City Council voted against the appointment citing a lack of a proper process for vetting candidates for such a critical role.

“A resume is not sufficient for advice and consent, we’d like to know more,” said Fulop at that time who was a mayoral candidate.

Two days after a divided city council rejected Abad and Velasquez, Hudson County Superior Judge Peter Bariso named Abad as municipal Court’s Acting Judge.  Judge Bariso also appointed Kenneth Lindenfelser as an acting municipal court judge instead of Velasquez.  Both assumed their posts on a temporary basis.

Under the new protocol established by the Fulop administration, the appointment of judges to the Municipal Court will begin with the administration notifying the Council of their candidate and providing a resume and letter to the Council with the candidate’s full background and credentials.  The City Council will be given ample time, ideally a month or greater, to review the candidate’s resume before a vote on the confirmation.  In the case of Mr. Abad and Mr. Curtis, the Council was provided a month and a half to review their credentials.

“The prior administration had no process or protocol in place for such important appointments to our Court and municipal boards,” said Mayor Fulop.  “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.”

Abad, a graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, has been serving on the bench in Jersey City since 2008.  Prior to that, he served 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 several private law firms. 

He obtained his Bachelor of Science with High Honors at the Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with a major in the Administration of Justice and a double minor in Political Science and Philosophy, and Sociology Certificate in Criminology.  As a Henry Rutgers scholar, he worked on a full year project researching and writing a published thesis: “Constitutional Issues Arising From Cyberspace: May The Government Regulate The Internet Without Affecting Our First Amendment Rights?”

Mark 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.

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PHOTO CAPTION AND CREDIT

Judge Carlo Abad (Photo courtesy of nj.com)

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