Shirley Tolentino was the first black woman to serve on the Superior Court and was the first black woman appointed to the Jersey City Municipal Court and to serve as its presiding judge.
Born and raised in Jersey City, Judge Tolentino earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin from the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown. She taught high school Latin and English before earning her law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law in 1971. She received a master of laws degree in criminal justice from New York University School of Law in 1980.
Judge Tolentino worked as a deputy attorney general from 1973 until 1976, when she appointed to the Jersey City Municipal Court. She was elevated to presiding judge in 1981.
Gov, Thomas Kean nominated Judge Tolentino to the Superior Court in January 1984. She sat in the
civil, criminal and family divisions during a 26-year period.
Judge Tolentino served on the Supreme Court Task Force on Minorities and was a member of the National Association of Women Judges, serving as president in 1996-97
Judge Tolentino died Oct. 31, 2010 at the age of 67.