Governor Murphy Announces Intention to Nominate Michael Noriega to Serve on the New Jersey Supreme Court
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Last summer when Justice Barry Albin reached the mandatory retirement age, our Supreme Court lost a legend. I want to thank him for his service, and I must also thank Judge Jack Sabatino, who has honorably filled his shoes on the Court over the last nine months.
When Justice Albin joined the Court in 2002, there wasn’t much of a learning curve. As his longtime colleague Justice Jaynee LaVecchia said of him, “In terms of the law, his breadth of legal knowledge was vast. That came from his past experience as a litigator in a great variety of civil matters, and as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney.”
Justice Albin brought all those experiences to bear during his tenure on the Court. While there are few people who have had as varied a career as Justice Albin, as I have made my selections for our Supreme Court, I have sought to ensure the Justices I nominate represent each aspect of our legal system.
I have chosen…
A federal prosecutor and law firm leader in Fabiana Pierre-Louis…
An experienced appellate and civil rights lawyer in Rachel Wainer Apter…
And a civil litigator and distinguished trial and appellate judge in Doug Fasciale.
As I undertook the search to find Justice Albin’s successor, I wanted to ensure that his perspectives as a trial practitioner and criminal defense attorney would not leave the Court with him.
I wanted someone who didn’t just learn how our judicial system works in a textbook, but had the real-world experience of fighting for their clients and giving them the representation they are entitled to under the law.
After an exhaustive search, I am pleased to announce I have found that person. Today, I am honored to nominate Michael Noriega to serve as Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Michael is an experienced criminal defense and immigration attorney who is a partner at the law firm of Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold, and Mangan, which represents individuals throughout our state who are hurt, sick, or in trouble.
He also serves as the President-elect of the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey, a clear signal of the respect the members of the criminal bar have for him. And in this, he follows in the footsteps of Justice Albin, who served as President of that association just before he was appointed to the Supreme Court.
If confirmed, Michael would make history as the first former public defender to sit on our state’s Supreme Court.
In this he would follow in the footsteps of a different Justice – Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who became the first former public defender to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court last year.
Folks, that experience matters. Public defenders see firsthand how the law impacts ordinary people. A public defender does not get to choose their clients. More often than not, they represent individuals from our most marginalized communities in their greatest moment of need.
Regardless of their own personal beliefs or opinions, public defenders represent their clients to the best of their ability. That is their sworn obligation as officers of the court.
That is an obligation we hold sacred because in America every defendant is guaranteed legal representation regardless of their ability to pay.
It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, powerful or powerless. Whether you’re struggling to make ends meet or the former President of the United States, it’s your Constitutional right to get a fair shot in court.
Michael understands that because he has lived it. During his five years as a public defender in Essex County, he represented thousands of clients in all manner of cases, and tried roughly 25 jury trials.
This perspective will be an important complement to the other Justices on the Court who have served as prosecutors. And their combined experiences will help the Court develop fair and just criminal jurisprudence.
But Michael’s experience extends far beyond his time as a public defender. He is also a seasoned immigration attorney and personal injury lawyer. He has argued over half a dozen appeals at the Appellate Division, and two cases before the New Jersey Supreme Court. And Michael spent eight years as an adjunct professor at the Seton Hall School of Law training students in appellate advocacy.
While he is currently a partner at one of New Jersey’s leading law firms, Michael also ran a successful solo practice for six years, where he continued to try cases, including jury trials. So he understands the rewards and challenges that the thousands of solo practitioners throughout our state face on a daily basis.
His story is a quintessentially Jersey story. The son of Peruvian immigrants, Michael was born in Weehawken and raised in Union City. He graduated from Rutgers University and received his law degree from Seton Hall.
His values are quintessentially Jersey values. After finding opportunity himself, he has dedicated his life to standing up for others – not just in his career, but in his spare time.
For seven years, he provided pro bono representation to young victims of human trafficking facing deportation – some of them only children. And he is currently the board president of Sanar Wellness Institute, a non-profit in Newark that helps victims of human trafficking, domestic abuse, and other forms of violence.
To borrow Michael’s own words, he works with those at the most unimaginable crossroads. He only strives to help.
In recognition of his compassion and extraordinary talents, in 2019, Michael was named Professional Lawyer of the Year by the New Jersey State Bar Association.
Today, Michael is a proud resident of Fanwood, and an active member of the Union County Bar Association.
Perhaps most importantly, he and his wife Melissa, a school psychologist, have four daughters – Emma, Abigail, Rebecca, and Kathryn. As the parent of four children myself, I know there is no greater challenge and no more satisfying reward.
During the vetting process, we heard from a number of Michael’s former colleagues from throughout his career. Every single one said they could think of no one with higher character or more integrity. They all noted not only his commitment to justice, but also his fundamental kindness and decency.
My Judicial Advisory Panel, chaired by former Chief Justice Zazzali, was proud to unanimously recommend him. I look forward to the review of the State Bar’s Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee prior to submitting his formal nomination to the Senate.
I know the individuals I nominate to serve on the New Jersey Supreme Court will shape the state for future generations long after my time in office has come to an end. I can think of no responsibility more solemn than finding the right Justices to strengthen our Supreme Court’s tradition of excellence.
I am very proud of my prior nominees — both for their credentials and their character. I am equally proud to put Michael’s name forward today, and I am certain he will make an outstanding Justice.
And now it’s my privilege to hand things over to the man himself. Ladies and gentlemen, our nominee for Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court Michael Noriega.
The accolades are all well and good. But, will this guy uphold the U.S. Constitutional rights of everyone–and I mean the SECOND AMENDMENT!!! He should rule that the current NJ anti-gun laws (specifically NJSA 2C:58-3) are unconstitutional and should be struck down as a violation of the 2nd Amendment, which has been incorporated into the states through McDonald v. Chicago and D.C. v. Heller.
NJSA 2C:58-3(c) says that you cannot get a gun permit based on the following subjective statement which is unconstitutional on its face:
“No person of good character and good repute in the community in which he lives, and who is not subject to any of the disabilities set forth in this section or other sections of this chapter, shall be denied a permit to purchase a handgun or a firearms purchaser identification card, except as hereinafter set forth. No handgun purchase permit or firearms purchaser identification card shall be issued: (5) To any person where the issuance would not be in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare.”
Well, what does that Mean–“of good character and good repute or where the “issuance would not be in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare”? This is what the Communist Dictatorship of Red China uses as part of its SOCIAL CREDIT SYSTEM to deny you rights. Are you a good citizen? Do you protest? Do you oppose what the goverment is doing?
I was subjected to this personally upon filing for applications for firearms and handguns permits. I was told that I was not a reputable member of the community, and issuance would not be in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare! I was never charged, let alone convicted of a crime. I was never involved with the police other than a few traffic tickets over a lifetime of 68 years. However, my political views on-line were used against me because I supported Trump, am a MAGA conservative, am a Christian, and believe in the United States Constitution, and I’m a strong supporter of the SECOND AMENDMENT. I was a leader of a divorce reform organization and let it be known that the FAMILY COURT INDUSTRY is a criminal racketeering enterprise.
For that, I was denied my firearms and handgun permits. I was denied in violation of my 1st Amendment Rights to Freedom of Speech and Protest. I was denied my Second Amendment Rights because of my Freedom of Speech and Protest. The State of New Jersey needs to answer for this, and one way to rectify this problem is the rescinding of NJSA 2C:58-3, specifically subpart (c) and subpart (5), as they are subjective and, therefore, unconstitutional.
If the new nominee of the NJ Supreme Court cannot look at this and say, “Yes, this part of the anti-gun law is subjective and needs to be stricken” then he’s nothing more than a political hack that’s part of the NJ Judiciary’s Dog and Pony Show, giving New Jerseyans crumbs of “justice” (or “just us”) and then telling them their rights have been upheld. When in reality it’s nothing more than smoke and mirrors, and New Jersey is nothing more than a Socialist/Communist banana republic.