By Sam Bojarski
Fabiana Pierre-Louis, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, will soon take her seat as the first Black woman to serve on the New Jersey Supreme Court.
The Democrat-led state Senate voted 39-0 to confirm Pierre-Louis, after the Judiciary Committee unanimously approved her nomination on Aug. 24. Pierre-Louis, 39, will replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Walter Timpone and could serve for as long as 30 years on the seven-member body.
Judicial nominees typically refrain from comment until after they are sworn in, but in a June interview with The Haitian Times, Pierre-Louis spoke about her nomination to the court.
“I know how important it is for young people to see somebody that looks like them or comes from a similar background as them in positions of leadership,” Pierre-Louis said. “So I just hope in this moment that I can be an inspiration to young people and the Haitian community.”
Born in Brooklyn, Pierre-Louis grew up in Irvington, New Jersey. She is the daughter of Joseph and Claire Pierre-Louis, who worked as a cab driver and hospital patient transport aide, respectively. She is fluent in Haitian Creole.
Pierre-Louis received her bachelor’s and her law degrees from Rutgers University. She went on to serve as a clerk for retired Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace, Jr., the most recent Black person to serve on the New Jersey Supreme Court. Wallace left the court in 2010.
Early in her career, Pierre-Louis worked as an associate in the Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads law firm’s white collar and government investigations practice group. She then served nine years in the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, as an assistant attorney and attorney-in-charge of the Camden Branch Office.
Last year, she returned to Montgomery McCracken as a partner, focusing on white collar crime, commercial litigation and government investigations, The Haitian Times reported.
Pierre-Louis resides in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, with her husband Robert Reeves and sons Robbie, 7, and Marc, 4.
The nomination of Pierre-Louis, as a woman of color, “tells the people that the law is open to everyone, and everyone can be heard,” said Gloria Browne-Marshall, a professor of constitutional law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.
Browne-Marshall said she anticipates the Supreme Court to rule on issues of policing and immigration law in the near future.
Multiple senators noted her resume as a lawyer and her parents’ immigrant background during the Aug. 24 hearing. Democratic Sen. Loretta Wineberg asked Pierre-Louis’s parents to stand up and be recognized.
Once sworn in, Pierre-Louis will become the Supreme Court’s youngest member by more than 20 years.
“I believe that you’ll bring those qualities, [as] more than just a lawyer, but as a human being that has an amazing story to tell,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Nicholas Scutari told Pierre-Louis, “to a bench to infuse a little bit of youth and vibrance there, and bring a new perspective to a court that’s moved into the 21st century.”
If Timpone steps down from the Supreme Court early as he indicated, Pierre-Louis could be sworn in as early as next week.