There’s good news today for one of Gov. Chris Christie’s three State Supreme Court nominees. Sen. President Steve Sweeney and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Nick Scutari have set a confirmation hearing date of Oct. 17 for Faustino Fernandez-Vina. The hearing will come one day after N.J’s special election for the U.S. Senate.

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

“We try to act as efficiently as we can,” said Scutari. “We’ve been doing our homework leading up to this because we anticipated the nomination coming.”

Following public threats from Democratic Sen. Ray Lesniak that he would play “hardball” with Christie over his State Supreme Court justice nominations, Christie decided not to re-nominate associate justice Helen Hoens and instead nominated Fernandez-Vina. The Governor said he wants to spare Hoens from having to be raked over the coals by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Two of Christie’s other Supreme Court nominees, David Bauman and Bob Hanna are still waiting for their confirmation hearings. The Governor announced their appointments in Dec. 2012.

“I’m glad we have at least one on the chute, but I think it’s time we have a full complement of seven (State) Supreme Court justices,” said Sen. Kevin O’Toole, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee. “I’m hoping we can have an up or down hearing on all three.”

Asked about the fates of Bauman and Hanna, Scutari deferred to Sweeney who has not yet made himself available to comment.

Tim Larsen, Governor's Office

Christie’s campaign promise and repeated warnings that he will reshape the High Court have caused public spats with Democratic leaders in the State Senate. Two of his earlier nominees, Phil Kwon and David Harris were rejected by the Judiciary panel.