Harriet E. Derman

Harriet E. Derman (born November 4, 1943) is an American Republican Party politician who was elected to two terms in the New Jersey General Assembly, where she represented the 18th Legislative District from 1992 to 1996. She later served as head of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, legal counsel and as chief of staff to Governor of New Jersey Christine Todd Whitman, and later served as a New Jersey Superior Court judge.

Harriet E. Derman
Chief of Staff to the Governor of New Jersey
In office
GovernorChristine Todd Whitman
Preceded byPeter Verniero
Succeeded byMichael P. Torpey
Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs
In office
February 7, 1994 – May 1, 1996
GovernorChristine Todd Whitman
Preceded byStephanie R. Bush
Succeeded byJane Kenny
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 18th district
In office
January 14, 1992 – February 8, 1994
Preceded byGeorge A. Spadoro
Succeeded byJoanna Gregory-Scocchi
Personal details
Born (1943-11-04) November 4, 1943 (age 77)
Political partyRepublican

A resident of Metuchen, Derman is a graduate of the Seton Hall University School of Law and had served in 1992 as president of the Middlesex County Bar Association and as first vice chairwoman of the taxation section of the New Jersey Bar Association.[1]

Derman had been an attorney with the firm of Weiner, Hendler & Derman, specializing in tax law, when she was elected to the General Assembly in 1991 together with running mate Jeffrey A. Warsh, knocking off Democratic incumbent George A. Spadoro and his running mate Michael Baker.[2] Derman supported a bill in 1992 that would allow doctors and lawyers to serve as intermediaries in arranging adoptions in the state, saying that "we should do everything we can to encourage adoption versus abortion".[3] Derman and Warsh won re-election in 1993, defeating former Assemblymember Thomas H. Paterniti and his running mate Matthew Vaughn.[4]

After Christine Whitman took office in 1994, she named Derman to head the Department of Community Affairs, where she was responsible for a $1 billion budget and some 1,000 employees.[5] Republican Joanna Gregory-Scocchi was chosen by a Republican special convention to fill Derman's vacancy. In a November 1994 special election, early favorite Gregory-Scocchi was defeated by Barbara Buono, after disclosures that a temporary employment firm owned by Gregory-Scocchi had hired illegal immigrants.[6]

Derman become Whitman's chief counsel in May 1996 and became her chief of staff a few weeks later when Peter Verniero was named as New Jersey Attorney General as part of a series of changes made after the resignation of New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Wilentz. Derman stepped down after 18 months as chief of staff, announcing in November 1997 that she would be leaving to spend more time with her family. Whitman announced that Derman would be named to serve as a New Jersey Superior Court judge.[7][8]

In July 2003, Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz elevated Derman to be the Presiding Judge of the Civil Division of Superior Court in Somerset County.[9]

Derman left the bench in 2009. She is now a member of a law firm headed by former New Jersey governor Donald DiFrancesco.[10]


  1. ^ Staff. "THE GOVERNORSHIP; Changing of the Guard: The Whitman Team", The New York Times, January 23, 1994. Accessed July 4, 2010.
  2. ^ NJ Assembly 18 - History, OurCampaigns.com. Accessed July 4, 2010.
  3. ^ Romano, Jay. "Protests Rise Over Adoption Proposal", The New York Times, September 20, 1992. Accessed July 4, 2010.
  4. ^ Sullivan, Joseph F. "THE 1993 ELECTIONS: New Jersey Legislature; Cut Taxes 30 Percent? Whitman's Top Statehouse Allies Say Not So Fast", The New York Times, November 4, 1993. Accessed July 4, 2010.
  5. ^ Preston, Jennifer. "ON POLITICS;Enter Harriet Derman, Lawmaker Turned Insider", The New York Times, June 23, 1996. Accessed July 4, 2010.
  6. ^ Edge, Wally. PolitickerNJ How Buono got to Trenton, PolitickerNJ.com, January 12, 2010. Accessed July 4, 2010.
  7. ^ Preston, Jennifer. "Chief of Staff For Whitman Will Resign", The New York Times, November 14, 1997. Accessed July 4, 2010.
  8. ^ Preston, Jennifer. "Whitman's Chief Counsel to Head Staff", The New York Times, November 20, 1997. Accessed March 4, 2012.
  9. ^ NOTICE TO THE BAR: Judicial Assignment - Judge Harriet E. Derman, New Jersey Judiciary, July 15, 2003. Accessed July 4, 2010.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-04-23. Retrieved 2014-04-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
Political offices
Preceded by
Peter Verniero
Chief of Staff to the Governor of New Jersey
1996 – 1998
Succeeded by
Michael P. Torpey