Daughter of immigrants, Fabiana Pierre-Louis becomes 1st Black woman on New Jersey Supreme Court

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Thursday, August 27, 2020
Fabiana Pierre-Louis set to become 1st black woman on NJ Supreme Court
Fabiana Pierre-Louis is on the brink of making history in New Jersey as the first African American woman to serve on the state's Supreme Court.

TRENTON, New Jersey -- Fabiana Pierre-Louis made history in New Jersey as the first Black woman to serve on the state's Supreme Court, with the full Senate voting unanimously on her confirmation Thursday.

Gov. Phil Murphy nominated Pierre-Louis for the post in June.

At 39, she is the youngest person ever to serve as a Justice on New Jersey's highest court. Pierre-Louis succeeds Walter Timpone, who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in November.

"Fabiana is an exceptionally talented attorney, and will now have the historic distinction of becoming the first Black woman to be seated on our state's highest court. I am honored to have put her name forward, and to see someone with a different set of life experiences and perspectives on our Supreme Court, a judicial body where New Jerseyans from all walks of life turn for justice," Murphy said in a statement.

The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Pierre-Louis was the first person to go to law school in her family. She is a partner at Montgomery McCracken in Cherry Hill, where she is in the white collar and government investigations practice.

Before that, she served for nearly a decade as an assistant United States Attorney in New Jersey.

As part of that role, she was the attorney-in-charge of the Camden branch office.

When she graduated from Rutgers Law School, she became a law clerk for former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice John Wallace in 2006,

"I know how important it is for young people to see people who look like them, or come from similar neighborhoods as them, or similar backgrounds, to see those people in positions of leadership," Pierre-Louis said.

Pierre-Louis grew up in Irvington after her family moved from Brownsville, Brooklyn, when she was 8.

Her father was a New York City taxi driver who saved up to buy his own medallion, while her mother spent more than 20 years working at St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan.

"Their work ethic is something I've always looked up to," Pierre-Louis said. "They worked extremely hard coming to a country where they didn't speak the language, didn't know many people and really established themselves."

While this nomination comes at a time of racial strife, Murphy made it clear his nomination had nothing to do with that and said he began vetting her in February.

"Given the challenges which are being brought to the forefront of our society and the questions which will undoubtedly rise to reach our supreme court, core issues of socio-economic equality and equity, there is no better meeting of an individual and the times," Murphy said after making the nomination.

Pierre-Louis is currently in private practice, but before that she was the first Black woman to become the attorney-in-charge of both the Camden and Trenton field offices for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey.

"I just feel like I'm fortunate to be in this position and hope to be an inspiration to others," Pierre-Louis said.