Gov. Jon Corzine nominated Secaucus resident and Assistant Hudson County Prosecutor Alvaro Iglesias to the N.J. Superior Court on June 14.
If confirmed by the state Senate, Iglesias, who has been practicing law for over three decades, could start at his new post as soon as next month. There, he would join the over 400 New Jersey state Superior Court judges.
For the last three years, he has often dealt directly with some of the county's most vulnerable kids as the head of Hudson County's Special Victims Unit.
Hard work, wonderful rewards
It was as a child himself that Iglesias decided upon his career path. "When I was very young, a family member said I could probably grow up to be a good lawyer," Iglesias said recently. "As I went though school, I saw I had the aptitude for that type of work." He spent the early years of his life in Cuba. At the age of 13, his family migrated to Spain, living in the Northern province of La Coruña for a year before settling in Hudson County in 1965. He, his wife Caridad, and their daughter Rebecca moved to Secaucus five years ago, drawn by the sense of community and quality of schools. "We knew that Secaucus had a very nice community and was a place where my daughter could go to school and get a good education," he said. Iglesias earned a Bachelor of Arts from The College of Wooster, Ohio, and later earned his Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School. If confirmed, he will be one of only a dozen or so Latino judges on the state Superior Court. "It's healthy to have a judiciary that has a commitment and resemblance to the people that it serves," remarked Iglesias. Private and public
Iglesias began his legal career 34 years ago as an assistant deputy public defender in Jersey City. He then went into private civil practice for 20 years, where he handled mostly civil litigation, real estate, and commercial cases. In 1997 he decided to re-enter the realm of public law as an assistant prosecutor for Hudson County. "I saw it as an opportunity to serve," he said, "and that's how I see the possible judgeship - as an opportunity to serve and make a difference for the better in the lives of people." In over three decades of practice, Iglesias said that his time working with youngsters has been the most rewarding. He heads the Special Victims Unit, a division that often deals with cases involving child abuse and neglect. "We have the opportunity to help people going through very hard times," he said. "It is very hard, but the rewards can be very wonderful." Iglesias, who said he feels "very blessed" by the nomination, has been in charge of the unit for the past three years. Iglesias also said that his work in SVU has had a direct impact on his life. "As a result of this assignment, I've become more sensitive to the lives of children," said the father of three. Iglesias was set to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. After committee approval, the nomination will be brought to the full floor. Senate staffers say that the confirmation process could be initiated this week, but may be put off until after the legislature's summer recess. Value to Hudson County
New Jersey's state Superior Court judges are assigned by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court to either the appellate division or the law and chancery division. Judges serve for an initial term of seven years, and then, after a reappointment and second confirmation, they can serve until the age of 70. "It's a well-deserved nomination," said Iglesias' current boss, Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio. "Al is a true gentleman and a scholar and will be a fantastic addition to the Superior Court of New Jersey." DeFazio and Iglesias have worked together for the past 10 years in the county prosecutor's office in Jersey City. There, Iglesias supervises a team of young assistant prosecutors and investigative and clerical support staff. He also reviews and assigns files and handles his own cases. DeFazio said that Iglesias' work on these cases has been of great value to the office, and added that he is an extremely accomplished trial lawyer. "Al really has been a tremendous asset for our office when it's come to his trial work," said the prosecutor. "He has personally tried a number of homicide cases with great success." DeFazio also pointed to Iglesias' work at the county's Child Advocacy Center as an example of his dedication. At the center, the prosecutor's office collaborates with the division of youth services to provide intervention and referrals for young people who are the victims of physical and sexual abuse. DeFazio said that Iglesias has been involved in the center's transition from being a county-based organization to a non-profit. Comments on this piece can be sent to email@example.com