A Cuba native who Gov. Chris Christie nominated to the state Supreme Court has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina (Tim Larsen, Governor's Office)

The vote on Superior Court Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina was unanimous.

The 61-year-old must be confirmed by the full Senate before he can take a seat on the seven-member court.

The Barrington resident would fill one of three vacancies.

Two other Christie nominees are stalled because of differences between the Republican governor and Democratic leaders over the independence and political balance of the court.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says Fernandez-Vina would succeed Republican Helen Hoens, who Christie did not re-nominate for tenure.

The governor said Hoens would not have gotten a fair hearing from Democrats.

The panel rejected two prior Christie nominees, but approved corporate lawyer Anne Patterson.


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