A Burlington County Superior Court judge who has raised eyebrows and drawn national headlines for his comments from the bench may soon be looking for another job.
Judge James J. Morley, whose term expires June 17, was not on a list of nine judges Gov. Christie intends to renominate for tenure. The judges named have terms that expire between June and August.
Three other Superior Court judges whose terms will expire this summer, Mitchel Ostrer of Mercer County and Diane Pincus and Joseph Rea of Middlesex County, also have not yet been renominated by the governor, although Christie has until the expiration of their terms to do so.
Christie's office declined to comment, saying only that the four judges whose names were not included were still being reviewed.
The renominations are subject to the advice and consent of the state Senate.
Morley, the presiding criminal court judge in Burlington County, drew national attention when he dismissed animal cruelty charges last September against a Moorestown police officer. Morley argued a grand jury could not determine if the calves allegedly sexually assaulted by Robert Melia Jr. were "tormented" or "puzzled" by the actions.
According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Burlington County Assistant County Prosecutor Kevin Morgan called it "a crime against nature" and said "any reasonable juror" could infer that the act was torment. Morley said the question before him was not a question of morality or hygiene, but of the law. Bestiality is not against the law in New Jersey.
Allen A. Etish, president of the New Jersey State Bar Association, said Morley was an excellent judge.
Etish said Morley had undergone the vetting process by the Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointment Committees and had been determined to be qualified.
Etish was not familiar with the details of the case of the calves but said that he had appeared before Morley and found him to be "credible, succinct [and] qualified candidate to be renominated."
Alluding to Christie's controversial decision not to reappoint Supreme Court Justice John Wallace Jr., of Gloucester County, to the state's top bench, Etish said the governor "has an agenda and he's done some strange things so far in the first four months of his term."
Morley could not be reached for comment.