Thursday, October 26, 2006

What's in an appearance?

We noticed one interesting item in the "appearances" list at the front of the New Jersey Supreme Court's "gay marriage" opinion -- Lewis v. Harris. At the top of page 2 it lists who represented the State in this appeal:
Patrick DeAlmeida, Assistant Attorney General argued the cause for respondents (Anne Milgram, Acting Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney; Mr. DeAlmeida and Mary Beth Wood, on the briefs).

Anne Milgram is the First Assistant Attorney General, i.e., she is the second in charge in the Attorney General's office. The Attorney General's right hand woman.

For a very short period of time -- in between Zulima Farber's resignation and Stuart Rabner's confirmation and swearing in -- Ms. Milgram served as Acting Attorney General. That period of time was from August 31, 2006 to September 26, 2006.

Why then does Anne Milgram's name and title as Acting Attorney General appear on the court's opinion released one month after Mr. Rabner assumed the job of Attorney General? Given that the briefs were written when Peter Harvey was Attorney General and the oral argument was held while Ms. Farber held that post, and neither of their names appear on the decision, shouldn't the current AG's name be listed? We think the answer to that question is easy: Yes.

So why doesn't it? Was the opinion written, done, signed off, and ready for filing and release to the public over a month ago when Ms. Milgram was Acting Attorney General? If so, why wasn't it released then? Why did the court wait a month to issue its decision?

That's where the heading to this post comes in: Was this an "October surprise" (as some have mentioned) meant to somehow affect an election? Or was it "confirmation assistance"? What we mean by that is this: was the decision purposefully delayed so that then-Justice Zazzali would not have to face a barrage of questions about the court's opinion -- and his support for full and immediate gay marriage -- during the senate confirmation hearing on his appointment as chief justice held last week?

Or was it just a typographical error?

We aren't big conspiracy theorists, but this one got even us wondering.

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