TRENTON – Gov. Phil Murphy informed the state Senate Thursday that he intends to nominate seven new Superior Court judges, including a mayor and the daughter of an Ocean County commissioner.

Four of the pending nominees are from Ocean County, including Dina Vicari of Toms River, whose father, Joseph Vicari, has been on the county governing body since 1981 and was briefly a candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in January.

The selections from Ocean County also include Manchester Township Mayor Kenneth Palmer; Brian White of Manahawkin, who was the Democratic nominee for state Senate in 2017 in the 9th Legislative District; and Pamela Madas Snyder of Point Pleasant.

Murphy also filed notices of intent to nominate three Superior Court judges from Middlesex County: Thomas Abode of North Brunswick, Brian English of Avenel and Bina Desai of East Brunswick, who is executive first assistant prosecutor in the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

The pending nominations, if confirmed before the Senate goes into a long recess at the end of June, would help narrow a major shortage of state judges.

In testimony before the Legislature’s budget committees, Judge Glenn Grant, who is the acting administrative director of the courts, told lawmakers that courts “are operating with an unprecedent amount of judicial vacancies” – 67 as of May 1, down from a peak of 75 during the pandemic.

“These extraordinary times are not a good time to be operating with a historic shortage of judges,” Grant said. “It is crucial that action be taken as soon as possible.”

Judges are often nominated in groups, as governors negotiate the details with local senators who, according to tradition, can exercise 'senatorial courtesy' to block home-county nominations.

Also from Ocean County, Murphy on Thursday renominated two members of the county Board of Taxation for additional terms: Glenn Harrison and Benjamin Mabie III.

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Murphy also nominated Linda Stender, a former Union County assemblywoman, to be a trustee at the New Jersey Historic Trust. He withdrew the nomination of Raphael Kasen, made a year ago, to fill the position, which has been vacant since 2015.

Murphy also renominated Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez for another term. She had been under consideration as a candidate to become U.S. attorney for New Jersey.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at

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