Half of proceeds from Boardwalk Empire author’s new book to benefit New Jersey State Bar Foundation

For Immediate Release


Kate Coscarelli

Sr. Director, Communications


New Brunswick: Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson, the author of the mega-hit Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City, which spawned an HBO series, has a new book that chronicles the power brokers behind the evolution of the New Jersey courts from one of the country’s most dysfunctional to one of its most respected.

The book, Battleground New Jersey, details the maneuverings and power struggles between Arthur T. Vanderbilt, who became the first modern-era chief justice, and Frank Hague, the Jersey City mayor and political boss.

Because New Jersey jurists are restricted from earning income outside of their judicial salaries, the publisher decided that half of the royalties and any other proceeds generated from the recently published book will go to the New Jersey State Bar Foundation (NJSBF), the educational and philanthropic arm of the New Jersey State Bar Association. The foundation provides scholarships and law-related education to the public and school children throughout the state.

“We wanted to select an organization that reflected both Nelson Johnson's interests and ours. The New Jersey State Bar Foundation, which is obviously connected to Nelson's profession, is also directly connected with higher and continuing education, which is at the heart of our own mission,” said Marlie Wasserman, director of Rutgers University Press, which published the book.

Louis H. Miron, NJSBF president, said the foundation is extremely honored by the generous donation.

“Judge Johnson’s recognition of the foundation’s work in educating the public about the law, the justice system and violence prevention – especially during these times when funding for these important programs is scarce -- is truly appreciated,” said Miron.

The remaining 50 percent of the proceeds will go to Stockton College.

The book has already received considerable praise.

“(It) takes a fresh look at the personal and political forces that brought the New Jersey Court system from a hodgepodge of ancient rules and ‘Dickensian absurdity’ to what ultimately became a judicial model envied throughout the country. The book is a compelling narrative that both illuminates and entertains,” said retired Judge L. Anthony Gibson.

Added former Governor James J. Florio: “(The book) is an enjoyable romp through an important era about which most people know little. Nelson Johnson brings to life people and events for which we have, at best, a hazy image.”

The historian, jurist and author recently served as a panelist at a recent program on constitutional law in New Jersey for the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, the New Jersey State Bar Association’s educational division. For the books sold that day, Johnson gave 100 percent of the proceeds, to the foundation.

To find out more about Battleground New Jersey or purchase it, visitrutgerspress.rutgers.edu, or to donate directly to the foundation visit, njsbf.org.