Judges Wefing and Gallipoli named as co-chairs of NJSBA Judicial Independence Task Force

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For Immediate Release

Kate Coscarelli
Sr. Director, Communications

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Two of the state’s most respected retired judges will lead the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Task Force on Judicial Independence. 

NJSBA President Ralph J. Lamparello named Judge Dorothea O’C. Wefing (ret.), a former Appellate Division judge who was temporarily assigned to the New Jersey Supreme Court, and Judge Maurice Gallipoli (ret.), who served as assignment judge in Hudson County, as co-chairs of the task force. 

In recognition of the importance of the issues, the Task Force on Judicial Independence will not have a specific term length, Lamparello said. 

“The task force will continue to play a vital role, have a voice, and enjoy the support of the state’s largest lawyers group as long as this issue threatens our judicial system,” said Lamparello. “Since the 1947 state constitution, which resulted in the wholesale remaking of our New Jersey courts, there has been no more paramount issue facing us as a profession than the current threats to weaken our Judiciary by undermining its independence. We are and we will continue to fight to preserve its integrity and guarantee that our courts are a steadfast, independent and strong guardian for our citizens. Nothing less than the balance of our way of government is at stake.”

The task force will examine all facets of the issue and suggest initiatives to address the situation. Additional members, including retired jurists, lawyers, academics and lay people, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Judge Gallipoli said he accepted the appointment with a full measure of humility and apprehension, given the many people in the legal community who are qualified for the position and the significance of the task ahead. 

“Just so there is no misunderstanding, the purpose of the task force is not and will not be to criticize or cast blame on either the executive or legislative branches of state government for what has already taken place. Rather, the work of the task force will be to inquire, listen, and learn, and then to make good-faith recommendations and suggestions seeking to insure a renewed and continuing respect for the concept of judicial independence here in New Jersey, especially as it has reference to the judicial appointment and reappointment process,” he said. 

Added Judge Wefing: “I am pleased to be involved in such an important endeavor.”

About the co-chairs 

The Hon. Dorothea O’C. Wefing served nearly three decades as a jurist in New Jersey. She began her judicial career in 1984 when she was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Tom Kean. She served as a trial judge for a decade and was elevated to the Appellate Division in 1993, eventually serving as presiding judge for administration. In June 2011, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner temporarily appointed her to the Supreme Court where she sat until she retired in Oct. 2012. She is currently of counsel to Castano Quigley in Fairfield.  

The Hon. Maurice Gallipoli joined the bench after over 20 years in private practice. Then-Gov. Kean appointed him to the bench in 1987. He served in the Civil Division and eventually became presiding judge of the division. He became the Hudson County Assignment Judge in 2004, and served in that capacity until his retirement last year. He is now of counsel to Porzio, Bromberg & Newman.