Senate Committee Questions Superior Court Judge Nominees

By Lauren Wanko

Assistant Attorney General Bruce Kaplan facing extensive questioning by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Nia Gill asking the superior court nominee about a past incident in which an assistant prosecutor allegedly used a racial slur among colleges. Kaplan said he demoted the employee.

“The assistant prosecutor who made the racial slur, are you aware they are now promoted?” Gill asked. Kaplan replied, “No I did not.”

“We all know that individual should have been fired that goes to your lack of racial insensitivity and judgement,” Gill said.

Kaplan, the former Middlesex County Prosecutor was questioned at length about the former Middlesex County Sheriff Joe Spicuzzo. Senator Doherty said critics argue that Kaplan left it to the state police to break the case.

“I will indicate to you the office was diligent in pursing any wrong doing regardless of who the alleged wrongdoer was and we were in cooperation, if we believed we had a conflict with an agency we would pass along to another agency,” said Kaplan.

Kaplan’s not he only nominee to face tough questions. John Matheussen, CEO of the Delaware River Port Authority was asked if he thinks the DRPA is a troubled agency.

“Do I think my agency’s in trouble? No I think our agency has been cooperative and there’s issues we have dealt with at the agency for a number of years and I believe we are processing those issues extremely well,” said Matheussen.

Senator Doherty cited a March 2012 state comptroller report and mentioned how Mattheusen expressed concern about an excessive amount of economic development and how it lead to debt.

“The board usually threw suggestions by executives of both states because it is a bi-state authority. The board makes decisions to invest in economic development, the role of the staff, including mine is to make sure we distribute that money appropriately, I and the staff don’t vote and I and the staff don’t necessarily have any inclination as to what those projects may be,” said Mattheusen.

Robert Hanna was nominated today for a judgeship on the Superior Court, instead of the Supreme Court.