Stuart Jeff Rabner (born June 30, 1960) is the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. He has previously served as New Jersey Attorney General, Chief Counsel to Governor Jon Corzine, and as a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey.
|Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court|
|Assumed office |
June 29, 2007
|Appointed by||Jon Corzine|
|Preceded by||James Zazzali|
|56th Attorney General of New Jersey|
September 26, 2006 – June 29, 2007
|Preceded by||Anne Milgram (Acting)|
|Succeeded by||Anne Milgram|
|Born||June 30, 1960|
|Education||Princeton University (BA)|
Harvard University (JD)
- 1 Biography
- 2 Appointment as Chief Justice
- 3 Attorney general
- 4 Other positions
- 5 Decisions
- 6 Initiatives
- 7 Decisions by term
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Rabner grew up in Passaic, New Jersey. He graduated summa cum laude from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 1982 and cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1985. He is a resident of Caldwell. He was married in 1989 to Dr. Deborah Ann Wiener, and has three children: Erica, Carly, and Jack. In June 2007, he was named the most influential political personality in the state of New Jersey. In 2010, his name was proposed as a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.
Appointment as Chief JusticeEdit
Shortly after the nomination, two members of the New Jersey Senate from Essex County, where Rabner resides, blocked consideration of his confirmation by invoking "senatorial courtesy", a Senate tradition that allows home county legislators to intercede to prevent consideration of a nominee from the counties they represent. State Senator Ronald Rice had initially blocked the nomination, but relented on June 15, 2007, after a meeting with the governor. Senator Nia Gill dropped her block on June 19, 2007, but did not initially explain the nature of concerns. (Anonymous lawmakers cited in The New York Times indicated that the objection was due to Rabner's race and Governor Jon Corzine's failure to consider a minority candidate for the post.)
With the Senators permitting consideration of his nomination, Rabner was quickly approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, with Gill casting the only negative vote. On June 21, 2007, the New Jersey Senate confirmed Rabner as Chief Justice by a vote of 36–1, with Gill again casting the lone dissenting vote.
Rabner was sworn in as Chief Justice on June 29, 2007, with Acting Chief Justice Virginia Long administering the oath of office. On May 21, 2014, Governor Chris Christie renominated Rabner as Chief Justice despite their political differences, after a compromise was reached with State Senate Democrats, breaking a longstanding impasse over Supreme Court appointments. The Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed the nomination on June 14, 2014.
Rabner served as Attorney General of New Jersey in the cabinet of New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine. He took office as attorney general on September 26, 2006. Rabner was nominated by Governor Corzine on August 24, 2006, to replace former Attorney General Zulima Farber who resigned and left office on August 31, 2006. On September 25, 2006, Rabner was confirmed by a 35–0 margin by the New Jersey Senate.
After beginning his career as an Assistant United States Attorney, Chief Justice Rabner worked in a number of positions including first Assistant United States Attorney and chief of the terrorism unit in the office of the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey. He was chief of the office's criminal division, focusing on public corruption issues, and supervising 100 attorneys and staff, when he was named chief counsel to Governor Corzine in January 2006. He was viewed as a surprise choice for the chief counsel position, as it traditionally goes to individuals with strong political connections and not to career prosecutors. Rabner began his legal career as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Dickinson Richards Debevoise of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey before joining the office of the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey in Newark in 1986.
In 2011, Chief Justice Rabner authored a landmark decision on eyewitness identification evidence in State v. Henderson. The ruling questioned the longstanding test for admitting eyewitness identifications at trial. Henderson outlined a new standard under the New Jersey Constitution in light of more recent, accepted social science evidence on the risks of misidentification. The following year, the NJ Supreme Court released expanded model jury instructions on eyewitness identifications for use in criminal cases, consistent with the Henderson decision.
In 2013, Chief Justice Rabner broke new legal ground in a decision about the right to privacy in the location of one's cell phone. The opinion in State v. Earls marked the first time a state supreme court found a right of privacy in cell-phone location information. In light of recent advances in technology, the Earls decision noted that cell-phone providers in 2013 can pinpoint the location of a person's cell phone with increasing accuracy. That information can provide an intimate picture of one's daily life and reveal not only where people go – which doctors, religious services, and stores they visit – but also the people and groups they choose to affiliate with. The opinion held that, under the State Constitution, cell-phone users are reasonably entitled to expect confidentiality in the location of their cell phones. As a result, to obtain cell-phone location information, police must obtain a search warrant based on a showing of probable cause or qualify for an exception to the warrant requirement, such as exigent circumstances. In 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Carpenter v. United States  that historical cell-phone location information is protected by the Fourth Amendment, and the government must get a search warrant to acquire that type of record.
Also in 2013, Chief Justice Rabner authored a unanimous decision denying the state's application for a stay of a trial court order permitting same-sex couples to marry. Garden State Equality v. Dow The ruling was the first by a State Supreme Court in the wake of the United States Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor. Windsor struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and held that DOMA violated the federal constitution by denying lawfully married same-sex couples the benefits given to married couples of the opposite sex. In the wake of that decision, a number of federal agencies extended federal benefits to married same-sex couples but not to partners in civil unions. Under New Jersey state law, same-sex couples could enter into civil unions but could not marry. As a result, the New Jersey Supreme Court concluded that the state constitution's guarantee of equal protection for same-sex couples was not being met; that the harm to same-sex couples was real, not speculative; and that the public interest did not favor a stay. Three days after the ruling, same-sex couples began to marry, and the state withdrew its appeal of the trial court order, effectively ending the litigation.
In 2017, Chief Justice Rabner authored a significant ruling in the area of juvenile justice. In State v. Zuber & Comer, New Jersey's high court unanimously extended recent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and directed that state trial judges consider various factors related to youth before imposing a sentence that is the practical equivalent of life without parole.
Also in 2017, the Chief Justice wrote for a unanimous court that footage from dashboard cameras must be made public when the police use fatal force. In North Jersey Media Group v. Lyndhurst, the court concluded that once the principal witnesses to the shooting have been interviewed, the public's powerful interest in transparency calls for the release of police dash-cam videos under the common law right of access. More detailed investigative reports and witness statements, which if released would impair the integrity of an ongoing investigation, are not ordinarily subject to disclosure while an investigation is underway.
In Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Morris County, at 232 N.J. 543 (2018)] the Chief Justice authored a 2018 opinion that struck Morris County’s award of $4.6 million in historic preservation grant funds to restore twelve churches. The Court held that the grants ran afoul of the State Constitution’s Religious Aid Clause, which dates back to 1776 and bars the use of taxpayer funds to repair churches. The grants funded repairs of church buildings that housed regular worship services. The Court found that the application of the Religious Aid Clause in the case did not violate the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause under current law, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Trinity Lutheran.
The Chief Justice has launched a series of initiatives to implement reforms in the state’s municipal courts, enlist volunteers to monitor court-appointed guardians, improve the handling of complex commercial cases, assist veterans, promote access and fairness in the court system, and introduce new uses of technology to make the Judiciary more accessible and efficient, among other areas.
Starting in 2013, the Chief Justice chaired a Joint Committee on Criminal Justice, composed of judges, the Attorney General, Public Defender, representatives of the executive and legislative branches, the ACLU, and private practitioners. In March 2014, the Committee issued a final report that called for bail reform and the enactment of a state speedy trial act.
As part of wholesale revisions to the pending system of pretrial release, the Committee proposed that defendants be released based on objective measures of risk and be supervised by pretrial services officers before trial; that judges rely less on imposing "money bail," so that defendants who pose little risk of flight or danger but have limited assets are not held in jail for long periods before trial; and that the State Constitution be amended to allow for pretrial detention of defendants who pose a substantial risk of flight and danger to the community.
The group of recommendations received widespread support and were enacted into law in August 2014. Citizens voted to amend the Constitution in November 2014, and the new law went into effect on January 1, 2017. The results of the first year of the reforms to the state’s criminal justice system are summarized in a report.
Decisions by termEdit
- State v. Ingram - State is not required to call a live witness at a pretrial detention hearing to establish probable cause that defendant committed predicate offense.
- North Jersey Media Group, Inc v. Lyndhurst - Public's substantial interest in disclosure of dash-cam videos from fatal police shooting warranted release of the videos under common law.
- State v. Zuber - Constitutional requirements of Miller v. Alabama applied to consecutive term-of-years sentences that were the practical equivalent of life without parole for juveniles.
- State v. Robertson - Judge may stay license suspension of defendant, convicted in municipal court of driving while intoxicated, while he appeals to Law Division, subject to certain conditions.
- State v. Robinson - Supreme Court clarified and revised rule governing pretrial detention discovery to address probable cause and risk of danger, flight, and obstruction.
- State v. Harper - Amnesty defense, which required transfer or surrender of firearm, did not apply to non-resident defendant charged with unlawful possession of handgun.
- State v. Smith- Disclosure of exculpatory evidence during trial warranted mistrial.
- John J. Robertelli v. N.J. Office of Attorney Ethics- Rule providing for no appeal from decision of District Ethics Committee not to docket grievance does not bar action by Office of Attorney Ethics.
- In re Adoption of J.E.V. - Indigent parent facing termination of parental rights in contested private adoption has right to appointed counsel.
- State v. Lunsford - Going forward, the State must apply for a court order under wiretapping statute to obtain telephone billing or toll records.
- State in the Interest of N.H. - State is required to disclose entire discovery file prior to hearing on motion to waive juvenile court jurisdiction.
- Dublirer v. 2000 Linwood Ave Owners, Inc. - Prohibition on distributing materials in private cooperative apartment building violated resident's state constitutional free speech rights.
- State v. Wright - Third-party intervention doctrine was not applicable warrantless search of a home.
- State v. Dalal - Judges in county where defendant had made alleged threats against judges were required to be recused from presiding over defendant's trial.
- State v. Buckner - Recall of retired judges over age of 70 years does not violate State Constitution.
- State v. Munafo - crime of endangering a helpless victim did not include as an element that the defendant's flight from the scene of the injury increased the risk that further harm would come to the victim.
- Garden State Equality v. Dow - The State's application for a stay of a trial court order permitting same-sex couples to marry is denied based on the New Jersey State Constitution's guarantee of equal protection for same-sex couples, the real harm to same-sex couples, and a determination that the public interest does not favor a stay.
- State v. Morgan - a judge's ex parte communication with a deliberating jury did not cause prejudice warranting a new trial.
- State v. O'Driscoll - police officer's mistakes in reading standard statement regarding refusal to take a breath test were not material and did not warrant reversal of defendant's conviction.
- In re D.J.B. - Petitioner's prior juvenile delinquency adjudications did not disqualify him from expungement of adult conviction.
- State v. Ates - New Jersey's Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act is constitutional.
- State v. Terry - confidential communications intercepted on a wiretap are covered by marital communications privilege.
- State v. Earls - The New Jersey Constitution protects an individual's right of privacy in cell-phone location information.
- In re Plan for the Abolition of the Council on Affordable Housing - The Executive Reorganization Act does not authorize the Governor to abolish independent state agencies. To abolish the Council on Affordable Housing, the legislative and executive branches must enact new laws passed by the Senate and Assembly and signed by the Governor.
- State v. Tedesco - A criminal defendant does not have an absolute right to be absent from his sentencing hearing; trial judges have discretion to decide whether to accept a defendant's waiver of the right to be present.
- N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. A.L. - The mere fact that an expectant mother used drugs during pregnancy is insufficient to demonstrate "abuse" or "neglect" of a child under New Jersey's child protection statutes.
- State v. Sowell - Expert witness's testimony that "an exchange of narcotics took place" was improper because it related to a straightforward factual allegation that was not beyond the understanding of an average juror.
- State v. Lazo - Improper for a police officer to testify at trial about how and why he assembled a photo array.
- N.J. Ass'n of School Administrators v. Schundler - School reforms enacted in 2007-08 that limit certain benefits for certain school administrators did not violate either the state constitution or pre-existing tenure statutes.
- Mazdabrook Commons Homeowners' Ass'n v. Khan - Homeowner's association cannot prohibit residents from posting political signs in the windows of their own homes.
- In re Kollman - Trial court erred in denying petitioner's expungement application
- Sussex Commons Assocs., LLC v. Rutgers - Records related to cases at a public law school clinic are not subject to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).
- State v. Herrerra - Where a defendant is subject to an unlawful traffic stop and then commits an additional crime (i.e., attempts to murder the police officer who pulled him over), the illegality of the traffic stop does not provide a basis for suppressing evidence of the subsequent crime.
- State v. Henderson and State v. Chen (companion cases) – Revised legal standard for assessing eyewitness identification by (1) allowing defendants who demonstrate suggestiveness to present all relevant evidence on identification and (2) requiring more detailed jury charges regarding identification.
- Too Much Media, LLC v. Hale – The "newsperson's privilege" does not extend to a self-described journalist who posted comments on an Internet message board.
- Henry v. Department of Human Services (concurring) – The majority opinion authored by Judge Edwin Stern, serving by temporary assignment to the Supreme Court, is valid law, and Judge Stern's temporary assignment does not violate the state constitution.
- Johnson v. Johnson (concurring) – Disagreement over Judge Stern's temporary assignment to the Supreme Court is not a valid basis for an Associate Justice's decision to abstain from pending cases.
- The Committee to Recall Robert Menendez v. Wells – The federal constitution does not give states the power to recall United States senators, and the portion of the state constitution authorizing such recalls is unconstitutional.
- State v. McCabe – Part-time municipal court judges must recuse themselves whenever the judge and a lawyer for a party are adversaries in some other open, unresolved matter.
- Stengart v. Loving Care Agency, Inc. – Attorney-client privilege protects employee's communications with her lawyer even when the statements are made through personal, web-based e-mail on employer-provided laptop.
- State v. J.G. – The cleric-penitent privilege applies when, under the totality of the circumstances, an objectively reasonable penitent would believe that a communication was secret, that is, made in confidence to a cleric in the cleric's professional character or role as a spiritual advisor.
- State v. Marquez – When informing a motorist of the consequences of refusing to submit to a Breathalyzer test, a police officer must provide the statement in a language the person speaks or understands.
- State v. Fajardo-Santos[permanent dead link] – Trial judge may increase bail for undocumented immigrant in criminal case after U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) begins removal proceedings against defendant.
- Mt. Holly Board of Education v. Mt. Holly Education Ass'n[permanent dead link] –
- Burnett v. Bergen County[permanent dead link] – Established seven-factor test for determining whether individual requesting documents under OPRA must pay cost of redacting Social Security numbers from those documents before release.
- State v. A.O.[permanent dead link] – Forbid uncounseled stipulations admitting defendant's polygraph results; recognized that witness's false criminal accusations may be relevant to witness's credibility regardless of whether made before or after underlying accusation.
- State v. Slater[permanent dead link] – Established four-factor test for plea withdrawals.
- DeNike v. Cupo[permanent dead link] – Ordered re-trial in case where plaintiff's counsel offered legal job to trial judge while instant case was pending.
- Mason v. Hoboken[permanent dead link] – Under NJ's Open Public Records Act (OPRA), requestor of government documents entitled to attorney's fees when they demonstrate (1) a nexus between their litigation and the relief achieved and (2) that the relief had a basis in law.
- Shotmeyer v. N.J. Realty Title Ins. Co.[permanent dead link] – Insurance policy obtained by general partnership when it purchased the property lapsed when the property was voluntarily conveyed to a separate and distinct partnership formed by the same individuals.
- State v. Luna[permanent dead link] – Reversed conviction when lack of proof that defendant knowingly waived his right to be present at trial.
- State v. Reid[permanent dead link] – Citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the subscriber information they provide to Internet service providers.
- State v. Sloane[permanent dead link] – During a motor vehicle stop, the passenger, like the driver, is seized under the federal and state constitutions.
- State v. Taffaro[permanent dead link] – Reversed conviction when trial judge's questioning of defendant suggested disbelief of his testimony.
- Stuart Rabner: State Attorney General Archived December 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, State of New Jersey. Accessed September 20, 2007. "Rabner grew up in Passaic and was graduated summa cum laude in 1982 from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University."
- Corzine Nominates Stuart Rabner to Serve as Attorney General Archived December 14, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, press release dated August 24, 2006.
- reynolds. "Office of the Governor - Newsroom". NJ.gov. Archived from the original on June 2, 2016. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- Dr. Wiener Wed To Stuart Rabner, The New York Times, July 3, 1989.
- CORZINE NAMES RABNER CHIEF COUNSEL, press release dated December 14, 2005.
- PoliticsNJ.com Power List 2007 Archived October 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, dated June 20, 2007.
- Emily Bazelon & Dahlia Lithwick, Who Should Replace Justice Stevens?, "Slate," (April 10, 2010).
- "Source: Corzine picks Rabner as chief justice, Milgram as AG"[permanent dead link], Courier News, May 31, 2007. Accessed May 31, 2007.
- Associated Press. "Opposition Ebbs on Corzine Judge", The New York Times, June 15, 2007. Accessed June 20, 2007. "Ronald L. Rice, an Essex County Democrat and state senator, said yesterday that he would no longer block Gov. Jon S. Corzine's nomination for chief justice of the State Supreme Court."
- Jones, Richard G. "Senator Drops Objections to Corzine Court Nominee", The New York Times, June 20, 2007. Accessed June 20, 2007. "Senator Gill had delayed Mr. Rabner's confirmation hearing by using "senatorial courtesy" – an obscure practice through which senators who represent the home county of nominees may block consideration of their confirmations."
- Jones, Richard G. "After One Objection, Senate Confirms Corzine’s Choice for Chief Justice", The New York Times, June 22, 2007. Accessed June 22, 2007. "The Senate voted 36 to 1 to confirm Stuart Rabner, who has been attorney general since September 2006 and was Mr. Corzine's chief counsel before that. It also confirmed Anne Milgram, Mr. Rabner's first assistant, to succeed Mr. Rabner as attorney general.... A short time later, she was the only one of 40 senators to vote against Mr. Rabner."
- chief Justice Stuart Rabner Archived September 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, New Jersey Supreme Court. Accessed August 11, 2007.
- "UPDATED: NJ Senate panel approves Rabner, Solomon for Supreme Court". NJ.com. June 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- New Jersey Attorney General biography, version from Internet Archive copied as of April 2, 2007. Accessed December 17, 2007.
- Corzine names Rabner attorney general The Courier-Post, August 24, 2006.
- Rabner confirmed as attorney general, The Courier-Post, September 26, 2006.
- Straight-laced, quick-witted and caring, The Record (Bergen County), December 17, 2005.
- Jersey, Supreme Court of New. "a-8-08.opn.html". njlaw.Rutgers.edu. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- Weiser, Benjamin. "In New Jersey, Sweeping Shift on Witness Identifications", The New York Times, August 25, 2011. Accessed June 17, 2012.
- "What Did They Really See? New Jersey's Strict New Rules on Eyewitness Evidence Could Become the National Standard", The New York Times, August 27, 2011. Accessed June 17, 2012.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 18, 2013. Retrieved October 17, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 18, 2013. Retrieved October 17, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Weiser, Benjamin (July 19, 2012). "Judges Must Warn New Jersey Jurors About Eyewitnesses' Reliability". Retrieved October 23, 2017 – via www.NYTimes.com.
- "N.J. Supreme Court imposing sweeping changes in crime witness testimony". NJ.com. July 2012. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- "Police need warrants to track cell-phone data, N.J. Supreme Court rules". NJ.com. July 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- "In New Jersey, a win for privacy: Editorial". NJ.com. July 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- Zernike, Kate (July 18, 2013). "New Jersey Supreme Court Restricts Police Searches of Phone Data". Retrieved October 23, 2017 – via www.NYTimes.com.
- Wilf, Elana. "a-53-11.opn.html". njlaw.Rutgers.edu. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- "CARPENTER v. UNITED STATES" (PDF).
- "Garden State Equality v. Dow". Rutgers.edu. Archived from the original on November 13, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- "N.J. Supreme Court refuses to block same-sex marriage; first wedding expected Monday". NJ.com. October 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- "United States v. Windsor" (PDF). SupremeCourt.gov. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- "slip op. at 15-16" (PDF). SupremeCourt.gov. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- "Read excerpts from the same-sex marriage decision by the N.J. Supreme Court". NJ.com. October 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- Zernike, Kate (October 18, 2013). "Same-Sex Marriages in New Jersey Can Begin, Court Rules". Retrieved October 23, 2017 – via www.NYTimes.com.
- "Christie withdraws appeal of gay marriage ruling". NJ.com. October 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- "N.J. Supreme Court issues 'significant' ruling on sentencing youths". NJ.com. January 2017. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
- "State v. Zuber & Comer" (PDF). state.NJ.us. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 11, 2017. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- "Editorial: Age matters when sentencing juveniles". North Jersey. January 14, 2017. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
- "We Have Police Videos. Now What?". New York Times editorial, July 14, 2017.
- "North Jersey Media Group v. Lyndhurst".
- "Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders" (PDF).
- "TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH OF COLUMBIA, INC. v. COMER, DIRECTOR, MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES" (PDF).
- "Report of the Supreme Court Committee on Municipal Court Operations, Fines, and Fees" (PDF).
- "This judge is tired of towns using the courts like an ATM | Editorial".
- "A call for N.J. to stand guard: Opinion". Retrieved September 15, 2016.
- "NJBIA News" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 10, 2015.
- "New Jersey Judiciary Veterans Assistance Project" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 20, 2016.
- "Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Access and Fairness". www.judiciary.state.nj.us. Archived from the original on July 23, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
- "Technology in the Courts Resource Guide | NCSC.org". www.ncsc.org. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
- "REPORT OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE" (PDF).
- "REPORT OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE" (PDF).
- "Christie signs bail reform measure, lauds lawmakers for bipartisanship". Retrieved September 15, 2016.
- "Progress Report: Amend the Constitution". Reclaim the American Dream. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
- "Chief justice: Bail reform puts N.J. at the forefront of fairness | Opinion". NJ.com. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
- "2017 Report to the Governor and the Legislature" (PDF).
- Justice Stuart Rabner, New Jersey Supreme Court
- New Jersey Attorney General biography, version from Internet Archive copied as of April 2, 2007
- Stuart Rabner, New Jersey Attorney General
- NJ lawyers rally around Rabner as Christie weighs his fate
| Attorney General of New Jersey
| Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court