Today was the culmination of a successful campaign to convince as many municipalities in Atlantic County, New Jersey as possible … that a consolidated, Municipal Court system was the way to go.

It’s official. The new Central Municipal Court of Atlantic County held the official swearing-in ceremony for the judges who will preside over the new court.

  • Chief Judge Timothy Maguire was sworn in by New Jersey Superior Court Assignment Judge Julio L. Mendez.
  • Judge Richard Fauntleroy was sworn-in by Presiding Judge of Municipal Courts Louis Belasco
  • Judge Howard Freed was sworn-in by Judge Michael Blee.

Judge Blee will replace Mendez as Assignment Judge for the Atlantic and Cape May County vicinage effective March 1, 2022.

The fourth judge is Michele Verno, who was away and not available for today’s ceremony.

This consolidated Court has long been a philosophical goal for Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson.

Levinson has been pitching the idea of shared services between the 23 municipalities of Atlantic County for at least two decades.

Most often times, Levinson’s various proposals would be greeted by enthusiasm for his ideas. Everyone loves the concept in theory, however, in the end … no one ever wanted to give away their own control and localness.

Achieving this consolidated Atlantic County Court system was no small feat. Levinson was able to pull off the equivalent of a royal flush in political terms, when he landed Egg Harbor Township, Galloway Township and Hamilton Township.

To make this change for a new philosophy of governance happen, Levinson had to have all three of the large growth districts.

Levinson‘s sheer will, coupled with skillful negotiations by county council James Ferguson … in the end, they were able to pull it off. They had no room to spare.

Following their ceremonial oaths, Levinson presented each judge with a certificate of appreciation.

“We’re proud to be a model for the rest of the state,” said Levinson. “Consolidation is never easy or unanimously accepted, but we believe it can work and work well and bring the benefit of efficiency and cost savings to our taxpayers.”

The Atlantic County Central Municipal Court is the first of its kind in New Jersey state history.

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