A graduate of law school just eight years ago, Matthew J. Platkin of Montclair, Governor Phil Murphy’s choice for attorney general, cautioned state senators not to discount his last six months in the role of acting attorney general as critical, powerfully formative experience.
The Senate Judiciary Committee appeared poised to subsequently sign off on him this morning for the job of New Jersey’s top cop.
“This crucial time requires an attorney general with a broad vision and a commitment to service,” said state Senator Nia Gill (D-34), who introduced Platkin to the committee chaired by state Senator Brian P. Stack (D-33).
She cited his ability to protect New Jerseyans’ reproductive access, gun laws, and social justice. “Given Mr. Platkin’s background, he comes obviously qualified… prepared to advance the rule of law and justice.”
Platkin thanked the senators of his home county, Dick Codey, Ronald Rice, Teresa Ruiz, and specifically Gill. Moreover, “I’m grateful beyond measure to the governor for the faith he has shown in me,” Platkin said. “Public service is a calling; and I can’t think of a higher calling than serving as attorney general.”
On several occasions in his opening remarks, he cited the vital contributions of the 7,700 people employed by the Attorney General’s Office. “These people are the department,” Platkin said.
Echoing Gill’s opening statement, he said if confirmed he promises to prioritize New Jersey’s response combatting gun violence, among other values.
“I think the governor has made a great pick,” said Stack.
But state Senator Mike Doherty (R-23) wasn’t so sure. He noted that Platkin graduated from law school
in 2014, just eight years ago, suggesting he doesn’t have enough experience.
“In my career as an attorney I spent extensive time in the public sector; it’s true I haven’t been a line prosecutor; no one comes into this job fully prepared. I have had a number of experiences that prepared me,” Platkin said.
Six months as acting attorney general “only strengthened my view of the “commitment of this department”
Doherty later concluded that Platkin’s sense of the law doesn’t come from God, but from the state. The acting AG didn’t contradict him.
Then Doherty proceeded to quiz Platkin on the Katie Brennan-Al Alvarez scandal.
Would he do anything different?
“I think I’ve spoken about this issue extensively,” Platkin said. “My testimony is available. There are certainly things we would do differently. I would have told the governor of the specific allegation.” That said, he noted, “it’s important to consider the work I have done, this administration has done, and the state has done, in” overhauling the rules and strengthening policies for investigations into allegations of sexual assault.
“The work I am committed to is ensuring every victim of sexual assault is treated with dignity and respect,” he said. “One of the things I would have done differently is advise the governor.”