N.J. Senate approves resolution asking for resignation of justice

The Associated Press
Friday May 04, 2001

TRENTON, N.J. — The Senate approved a resolution Thursday urging Supreme Court Justice Peter G. Verniero to resign because he allegedly lied about racial profiling by state police. 

Acting governor and Senate leader Donald T. DiFrancesco, who called for Verniero’s resignation last month, supported the measure, which passed 37-1. The resolution is non-binding; the Senate cannot force Verniero to resign. 

“This makes it very clear. Republicans and Democrats alike feel he should not sit on  

the Supreme Court,” said the resolution’s sponsor, Sen. William L. Gormley. 

Sen. Walter Kavanaugh was the only lawmaker to vote no: “I’m not going to condemn him just because someone puts a piece of paper in front of me.” 

Verniero has repeatedly refused to step down; a telephone call to his lawyer seeking comment Thursday wasn’t immediately returned. 

Last month, DiFrancesco said he believed Verniero misled senators when he was questioned about racial profiling during his 1999 court confirmation hearings. The day before, all 11 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent DiFrancesco a letter saying Verniero should resign. 

Those committee members later sent Assembly Speaker Jack Collins six reasons Verniero should be impeached, including that he withheld information about racial profiling from federal investigators. 

Last week Collins refused to act on impeachment, saying the case against Verniero should be handled by the courts. 

Before Thursday’s vote, Assembly Democrats introduced articles of impeachment against Verniero. They plan to push for a full vote on the matter next week. If the Assembly votes to impeach, the case would be sent to the Senate for a trial.