A year into inheriting six vacancies on the New Jersey district court from the Trump Administration, President Biden is on the verge of filling all of them. He has now nominated Georgette Castner, who has been active in the legal and legislative battles over cannabis regulation in New Jersey.
Born Georgette Fries in Philadelphia in 1979, Castner received a B.S. from the College of New Jersey in 2002 and then spent a year as Chief of Staff to Assemblyman Reed Guiscora, before getting a J.D. with honors from Rutgers University School of Law in 2006. Castner then clerked for Judge Joseph Lisa on the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.
In 2007, Castner joined Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, LLP, becoming a Partner in 2015. She currently serves as an equity partner.
History of the Seat
The seat Castner has been nominated for opened on May 16, 2019, with Judge Jose Linares’ move to senior status. Due to a dispute over nominees between New Jersey Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker and the Trump Administration, no nominee to fill a district court vacancy in New Jersey was put forward by Trump. Castner was nominated to fill the vacancy on November 3, 2021.
Castner has spent her entire career post-clerkship at Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, LLP in Cherry Hill, where she worked primarily in civil litigation and white collar criminal matters. Among her notable matters, Castner represented Microsoft in a breach of contract action in New Jersey federal court. See Bitro Group Inc. et al. v. Microsoft Corp. et al., No. 2:20-cv-17714 (D.N.J.). Castner also represented Praxair, Inc. in defending a products liability action over allegedly defective oxygen cylinders. See Lawson et al. v. Praxair Inc., et al., No 3:16-cv-02435 (D.N.J.).
Additionally, Castner is also a co-chair in the firm’s Cannabis Law Practice Group and has liaised with the legislature on cannabis laws and regulations. In this role, Castner advises industry participants, as well as regulators on the changing legal landscape on cannabis. See, e.g., Georgette Castner, William K. Kennedy, Dr. Ronald Tuma, Medical Marijuana and the Non-Profit Workplace, available at http://39lm5827fzpu40ze7s2y2ses-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/5055922_1.pdf.
A politically active Democrat, Castner has several political contributions to her name, all to Democrats, including Representatives Andy Kim, Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Josh Gottheimer.
As a young, politically active nominee, Castner is likely to draw some opposition in the Senate. She may also draw questions regarding her work on cannabis law, particularly as, despite the growing consensus towards limited legalization, many still support the criminalization of marijuana.
From what I’ve read elsewhere, this nominee has also been active in doing pro bono work previously. She is likely the most progressive nominee that New Jersey has had thus far and upon confirmation will likely be considered to be nominated for the 3rd circuit.
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By New Jersey standards, a nominee with a pro bono background, cannabis advocacy & born in 1979 is the best we can ask for. This will close the 6 vacancies from New Jersey that President Biden inherited & the state has by far been the worse with its selections as far as I am concerned when it comes to the average of the nominees judging on youth & progressive background. And I am including the 4 nominees that came from states with at least one Republican senator.
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No doubt progressives are very high on this nominee. Castner wants both the legislature and governor of New Jersey to legalize cannabis, saying it to be a joint effort. She is very blunt about it. Opponents of Castner think she’s a real drag. They won’t roll for her. But given the Democratic control of the Senate, I think opposition to her will be smoked.
This is a better nominee than what we have seen so far. But still well below par. Another Big Law partner is again absolutely no good.
Again, I don’t just blame the NJ senators for the piss poor quality of nominees from New Jersey. This is also on Biden and Remus for not rejecting the current nominees from the state. They should have rejected nominees like O’Hearn and told them to pick new ones. Otherwise the seats should remain empty.