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For immediate release: May 15, 2008
For further information contact: Winnie Comfort
Tamara Kendig 609-292-9580

Chief Justice Appoints Judge Donald J. Volkert, Jr. to Head Passaic Court

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner today announced the appointment of Essex County Superior Court Judge Donald J. Volkert, Jr. as assignment judge of the Passaic Vicinage. Judge Volkert will succeed Judge Robert J. Passero upon his retirement on June 3 at the constitutionally mandated retirement age of 70.

"Judge Volkert is a gifted trial judge who has excelled in all areas. His wealth of experience -- on the bench and as a manager -- makes him an ideal person to head the Passaic Vicinage following Judge Passero's exceptional leadership," said Chief Justice Rabner.

Judge Volkert, 63, was appointed to the bench on Feb. 11, 1992 and was reappointed with tenure in 1999. He began his judicial career in the Criminal Division in the Essex Vicinage. In 1999 he was assigned to the Family Division as presiding judge. From Aug. 1, 2001 through Sept. 1, 2003, he served as chair of the statewide Conference of Family Presiding Judges. As chair of the conference, Judge Volkert was a member of the Judicial Council, an advisory body to the Supreme Court that includes the Judiciary's assignment judges, judicial conference chairs, administrative director and deputy director. In September 2003 Judge Volkert moved to the Essex Vicinage Criminal Division as presiding judge. Judge Volkert also served for three years as a New Jersey delegate to the National Conference of State Trial Judges.

Judge Volkert has served as Drug Court judge for Essex; chair of the Bail Judge Subcommittee; presiding judge of the General Equity Division and on the Statewide Domestic Violence Working Group. He has served on the New Jersey State Bar Association's Family Law Executive Committee; as co-chair of the Essex County Youth Services Commission; as a member of the Supreme Court Criminal Practice Committee; and as chair of the Sub-Committee on Judicial Education of the Conference of Family Division Presiding Judges. He also is a frequent lecturer for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Judicial Orientation, and numerous other seminars and programs.

"I am grateful for the confidence Chief Justice Rabner has placed in me with this appointment," said Judge Volkert.

"This honor comes to me in large measure because of the outstanding work of my Essex County colleagues on the bench and among the staff. Without their support I never could have achieved the success we did or been prepared to succeed Judge Passero, a virtual legend in the Passaic County legal community.

"I look forward to continuing and expanding his good work with the talented judges and staff in Passaic as we face the changes and challenges that lie ahead. And, to my Essex County courthouse family, I say thank you," Judge Volkert said.

Judge Volkert earned his bachelor's degree in 1966 at the University of Charleston and earned his law degree in 1969 at Ohio Northern University. He was admitted to practice law by the Supreme Court of Ohio in 1969; the Supreme Court of New Jersey and the U.S. District Court of New Jersey in 1970; the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976; New York in 1982; and the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1984.

Judge Volkert's legal career in public service began in 1972 in the federal judicial system, where he served for 10 years. First he was an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey and then became chief of the Civil Division in the U.S. attorney's office. At the time he was named to the bench, Judge Volkert was a partner in the Roseland law firm of Lum, Hoens, Conant, Danzis & Kleinberg. Judge Volkert is a former vice president of the Association of the Federal Bar of the State of New Jersey and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

A resident of North Caldwell, Judge Volkert is married to Susan Engelman Volkert, a partner in DeCotiis, Fitzpatrick, Cole, & Wisler and councilwoman in the Boro of North Caldwell. They have six children: Christine 40; Scott 35, a major in the U. S. Marine Corps and naval aviator; Jamie 33, an FBI agent in the Philadelphia office; Elizabeth 21, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania; Stephen 20, a junior at Penn State; and Michael 18, a senior at Newark Academy.

New Jersey's Judiciary is divided into 15 vicinages, each headed by an assignment judge who is the chief judicial officer and is responsible for the administration of all court units within the vicinage. As assignment judge of Passaic Vicinage, Judge Volkert will oversee more than 500 staff members, 22 judges and 16 municipal courts.

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