N.J. Supreme Court nominee wins praise

In a career focused on defending the pharmaceutical, tobacco, and chemical industries in product liability, pricing, and intellectual property disputes, lawyer Anne M. Patterson has won praise even from her opponents.

“There are some folks you just get along with because, although they are tenacious in terms of being an adversary, you also know that they are being professional and honest,” said John Lacey, a partner at the firm Connell Foley who has observed Patterson in cases where he was opposing counsel. “She’s a really good combination of those qualities.”

Anne M. Patterson speaks after Gov. Christie announced her nomination in Trenton. She has primarily represented business concerns in class actions and corporate litigation and appeals.

Anne M. Patterson speaks after Gov. Christie announced her nomination in Trenton. She has primarily represented business concerns in class actions and corporate litigation and appeals.

Patterson was nominated to the New Jersey Supreme Court on Monday by Gov. Christie, highlighting a 27-year legal career.

Lacey praised her humanity, calling his fellow official in the state chapter of the Association of the Federal Bar “a good ‘people person.’ ” Lacey is the group’s president and Patterson serves as secretary.

The 51-year-old resident of Mendham Township – the Morris County home of Christie – is a partner in the Morristown firm of Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti.

Patterson, a registered Republican, has primarily represented business concerns in class actions and corporate litigation and appeals, according to a biography released by Christie’s office.

“Her ability to listen, process information, and her just overall intelligence” sets her apart, said lawyer Kevin DeCoursey, chairman of the New Jersey Defense Association, where Patterson chairs the products-liability committee. “She’s just very good at what she does and I think she’s very fair.”

The Trenton native was among a group of Riker attorneys who defended the DuPont Co. in a lawsuit brought by 26 towns and counties – including Collingswood, Camden, and Gloucester City – against numerous manufacturers and distributors of lead paint.

The plaintiffs, who were backed by the state public advocate, sought to recover the cost of detecting and removing the paint from buildings, providing medical care to those with lead poisoning, and developing educational programs about the dangers of the paint.

The state Supreme Court threw out the suit in 2007. It decided that the governments could not claim that the manufacturers had posed a “public nuisance,” in part because the materials became dangerous through deterioration permitted by building owners.

That same year, Patterson successfully represented the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. before the appellate division. The product-liability case involved a Gloucester Township family that sought damages sustained when its home was destroyed in a fire caused by a cigarette left burning in a chair. The family claimed that the cigarette was defective because it was not “self-extinguishing.”

The appeals panel upheld a decision by Superior Court in Camden County to dismiss the action, saying product liability law did not allow for recovery of damages unless the self-extinguishing cigarette could be shown to eliminate fire danger.

Patterson also has represented Republicans. During the GOP’s heated 2001 gubernatorial primary, she represented the committee charged with selecting a replacement for acting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco after he dropped out of the race. The committee included Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore and Glenn Paulsen, then the Burlington County party chairman.

Bret Schundler – then a Republican gubernatorial candidate, now the state’s education secretary – challenged the constitutionality of a law that delayed the primary by three weeks, granting the committee time to have former U.S. Rep. Bob Franks enter the race. A trial judge’s decision in the defendants’ favor was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Patterson also argued before the appellate division on behalf of J. Garfield DeMarco, former longtime Burlington County Republican chairman, in a family dispute in 2007.

Patterson graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in 1980, and received her law degree from Cornell Law School in 1983. In 1989 and 1990, she served as a deputy attorney general and special assistant to then-New Jersey Attorney General Peter N. Perretti Jr.

The New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law presented Patterson with its Professional Lawyer of the Year award in 2007.

source: New Jersey Governor’s Office

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