By John Burton
TRENTON – Governor Chris Christie has tapped former Monmouth County sheriff and current county Republican chairman Joseph X. Oxley for a seat on the state Superior Court.
Christie included Oxley among seven nominees to fill vacancies on the bench around the state.
“The governor believes Mr. Oxley’s experience as a lawyer equips him to be an effective judge on the Superior Court,” said Sean L. Conner, deputy press secretary for the Governor’s Office.
“It’s certainly a dream come true,” Oxley said. “It was an honor for Gov. Christie to nominate me.”
Oxley, 54, a Middletown native, was county sheriff, an elected position, from 1996-2008. He also was a member of the Middletown Township Committee and was selected by the committee as mayor for a time.
Oxley also worked for the Monmouth Prosecutor’s Office from 1984 –1986, as an assistant prosecutor.
Since leaving the sheriff’s office, he has been in private practice, working with the Scarinci Hollenbeck law firm in Freehold.
He is currently borough attorney in Sea Bright, a post he previously served in for Highlands.
In the political realm, Oxley has been the county GOP chair for nearly two full three-year terms. He has been a staunch supporter of Christie, endorsing him early in the 2009 gubernatorial race. When Christie appeared at one of his town hall meetings in Ocean Township in early March, he made a point of noting how important carrying Monmouth County was in his winning the election.
Oxley’s current term as chairman ends next month following the primary election. Because it is unknown how long his Superior Court nomination will take before it reaches the state Senate Judiciary Committee, Oxley said he hasn’t determined whether he will seek another term as county chairman. But, he said, “I certainly will be finishing my current term.”
State Senator Joseph M. Kyrillos (R-13), another Middletown native son and Christie confidante who is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat, said Oxley was a “smart choice by the governor,” and “one that I fully advocated for and support.”
There are about 50 judicial vacancies in the Superior Court around the state, according to Derek Roseman, a spokesman for the Democratic Senate Majority Office. Roseman declined to comment on this nomination or predict how long it might be before it comes before the Senate.
While Senate Democrats “have been unusually partisan and, at times, intransient in regards to the governor’s nominees for various offices,” that hasn’t been as severe with judicial appointments other than the state Supreme Court, Kyrillos said.
“I’m looking to helping Joe through the confirmation process,” Kyrillos said.
For Superior Court appointments there has been a long-standing unofficial tradition that the number of judges be divided evenly between the two parties.
If approved by the Senate, Oxley would serve in Monmouth County.