Richard J. Hughes

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Richard Joseph Hughes
Richard J. Hughes 1962.jpg
Hughes in 1962
45th Governor of New Jersey
In office
January 16, 1962 January 20, 1970
Preceded by Robert B. Meyner
Succeeded by William T. Cahill
Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court
In office
December 18, 1973 August 10, 1979
Appointed by William T. Cahill
Preceded by Pierre P. Garven
Succeeded by Robert N. Wilentz
Personal details
Born(1909-08-10)August 10, 1909
Florence Township, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedDecember 7, 1992(1992-12-07) (aged 83)
Boca Raton, Florida, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Miriam McGrory
(m. 1935;died 1950)

Elizabeth Sullivan Murphy
(m. 1954;died 1983)

Richard Joseph Hughes (August 10, 1909 December 7, 1992) was an American lawyer, politician, and judge. A Democrat, he served as the 45th Governor of New Jersey from 1962 to 1970, and as Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court from 1973 to 1979. Hughes is the only person to have served New Jersey as both governor and chief justice. [1] [2] Hughes was also the first Roman Catholic governor in New Jersey's history. [3]

Democratic Party (United States) political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

Governor of New Jersey head of state and of government of the U.S. state of New Jersey

The Governor of the State of New Jersey is head of the executive branch of New Jersey's state government. The office of governor is an elected position, for which elected officials serve four-year terms. Governors cannot be elected to more than two consecutive terms, but there is no limit on the total number of terms they may serve. The official residence for the governor is Drumthwacket, a mansion located in Princeton, New Jersey; the office of the governor is at the New Jersey State House in Trenton.


Early life and education

He was born into an Irish-American family on August 10, 1909, in Florence Township, New Jersey. [4] Hughes graduated from St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia and the New Jersey Law School, now Rutgers Law School. [2]

Florence Township, New Jersey Township in New Jersey

Florence Township is a township in Burlington County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 12,109, reflecting an increase of 1,363 (+12.7%) from the 10,746 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 480 (+4.7%) from the 10,266 counted in the 1990 Census.

Saint Josephs University private, coeducational Roman Catholic Jesuit university

Saint Joseph's University is a private, coeducational Roman Catholic Jesuit university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The university was founded by the Society of Jesus in 1851 as Saint Joseph's College. Saint Joseph's is the seventh oldest Jesuit university in the United States and one of 28 member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

Rutgers Law School is the law school of Rutgers University located in the U.S. state of New Jersey. It is the largest public law school in the United States by enrollment and the 10th largest overall, with each class in Rutgers Law's three-year J.D. program enrolling approximately 300 students. Founded in 1908, Rutgers offers the J.D. and foreign lawyer J.D. Rutgers has over 20,000 alumni practicing in all 50 U.S. states. In 2015, Rutgers School of Law–Newark and Rutgers School of Law–Camden were unified into a single law school with two campuses.

Lawyer and state judge

Hughes was admitted to the bar in 1932 and entered private practice in Trenton. He became active in Mercer County Democratic politics in 1937 and later became a Democratic state committeeman from the county, as well as president of the New Jersey Young Democrats. Hughes sought election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1938 from New Jersey's 4th congressional district, running as a strong supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt; he was defeated by Republican D. Lane Powers by a broad margin but established a reputation as a robust campaigner. [3]

Trenton, New Jersey Capital of New Jersey

Trenton is the capital city of the U.S. state of New Jersey and the county seat of Mercer County. it briefly served as the capital of the United States in 1784. The city's metropolitan area is grouped with the New York metropolitan area by the United States Census Bureau, but it directly borders the Philadelphia metropolitan area and is part of the Philadelphia Combined Statistical Area and the Federal Communications Commission's Philadelphia Designated Market Area. As of the 2010 United States Census, Trenton had a population of 84,913, making it the state's tenth most populous municipality. The Census Bureau estimated that the city's population was 84,034 in 2014.

Mercer County, New Jersey County in the United States

Mercer County is a county located in the U.S. state of New Jersey. Its county seat is Trenton, the state capital. The county constitutes the Trenton-Ewing, NJ Metropolitan Statistical Area and is considered part of the New York Metropolitan Area by the United States Census Bureau, but also directly borders the Philadelphia metropolitan area and is included within the Federal Communications Commission's Philadelphia Designated Market Area and the greater Philadelphia-Reading-Camden Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2017 Census estimate, the county's population was 374,733, making it the state's 12th-most populous county, an increase of 2.2% from the 2010 United States Census, when its population was enumerated at 366,513, in turn an increase of 15,752 (4.5%) from the 350,761 enumerated in the 2000 Census, retaining its position as the 12th-most populous county in the state.

New Jerseys 4th congressional district

New Jersey's 4th Congressional District elects one member of the United States House of Representatives by the first-past-the-post voting method. It is represented by Republican Chris Smith, who has represented the district since 1981.

In December 1939, Hughes became a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey. In that role, he prosecuted federal crimes, including against members of the pro-Nazi German-American Vocational League. Hughes secured numerous convictions, which bolstered his bolstered standing. Hughes stepped down as Assistant U.S. Attorney in June 1945, after being elected chairman of the Mercer County Democratic Party, and resumed private practice in partnership with Thorn Lord, who had been U.S. Attorney. [3]

Prosecutor supreme representative of the prosecution (of the state)

A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system. The prosecution is the legal party responsible for presenting the case in a criminal trial against an individual accused of breaking the law. Typically, the prosecutor represents the government in the case brought against the accused person.

Balfour Bowen Thorn Lord was an American lawyer and Democratic politician from New Jersey.

In 1948, Hughes was appointed by acting Governor John M. Summerill, Jr. as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas (which, after the state court system was reorganized, became Mercer County Court). After Superior Court judge William J. Brennan, Jr. was appointed as a justice of the state supreme court in February 1952, Governor Alfred E. Driscoll appointed Hughes to fill the vacancy on the Superior Court bench. Hughes was later appointed to be assignment judge for Union County and was thereafter elevated to the Superior Court, Appellate Division. [3] As a Superior Court judge, Chief Justice Arthur T. Vanderbilt appointed Hughes as chair of a committee tasked with studying the state's handling of juvenile offenders and making recommendations for changes; the state supreme court accepted the committee's recommendations, leading to a reform of the New Jersey juvenile and domestic-relations courts. [3] [2]

The Superior Court is the state court in the U.S. state of New Jersey, with statewide trial and appellate jurisdiction. The New Jersey Constitution of 1947 establishes the power of the New Jersey courts. Under the State Constitution, "'judicial power shall be vested in a Supreme Court, a Superior Court, County Courts and inferior courts of limited jurisdiction.'" The Superior Court has three divisions: the Appellate Division is essentially an intermediate appellate court while the Law and Chancery Divisions function as trial courts. The State Constitution renders the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division the intermediate appellate court, and "[a]ppeals may be taken to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court from the law and chancery divisions of the Superior Court and in such other causes as may be provided by law." Each division is in turn divided into various parts. "The trial divisions of the Superior Court are the principal trial courts of New Jersey. They are located within the State's various judicial geographic units, called 'vicinages,' R. 1:33-2(a), and are organized into two basic divisions: the Chancery Division and the Law Division".

Alfred E. Driscoll American politician

Alfred Eastlack Driscoll was an American Republican Party politician, who served in the New Jersey Senate (1939–1941) representing Camden County, who served as the 43rd Governor of New Jersey, and as president of Warner-Lambert.

Union County, New Jersey County in the United States

Union County is a county in the U.S. state of New Jersey. As of the 2017 Census estimate, the county's population was 563,892, making it the seventh-most populous of the state's 21 counties, an increase of 5.1% from the 2010 United States Census, when its population was enumerated at 536,499, in turn an increase of 13,958 (2.7%) from the 522,541 enumerated in the 2000 Census. In 2010, Union County slipped to the seventh-most populous county in the state, having been surpassed by Ocean County. Union County is part of the New York metropolitan area. Its county seat is Elizabeth.

Hughes was considered by Governor Robert B. Meyner as a possible nominee to the state supreme court bench. [3] Seeking to support his large family, however, Hughes resigned from the bench in November 1957 in resume the practice of law. [3] [2] In his successful practice, Hughes' clients included the Association of New Jersey Railroads, Public Service Electric & Gas Company, and manufacturers of polio vaccines, whom Hughes defended in antitrust matters. [2]

Robert B. Meyner Governor of New Jersey

Robert Baumle Meyner was an American Democratic Party politician, who served as the 44th Governor of New Jersey, from 1954 to 1962. Before being elected governor, Meyner represented Warren County in the New Jersey Senate from 1948 to 1951.

Governor, 1962-1970

Hughes was little known at the time he ran for governor of New Jersey in 1961, and was selected as the Democratic nominee only after the first choice of powerful party leaders, Attorney General Grover C. Richman, had a heart attack. Hughes proved to be a strong campaigner, however, and achieved an upset victory over Republican nominee James P. Mitchell, who had been U.S. Secretary of Labor during the Eisenhower administration, by slightly under 35,000 votes. [2]

One of the important issues of Hughes' term as governor was state taxation; at the time Hughes took office in 1962, "New Jersey was one of only a handful of states that had neither an income tax nor a sales tax." [2] Hughes suffered a political defeat when a bond question, which would have issued $750 million in bonds for capital construction, was voted down in the November 1962 elections. [3] [2] Hughes announced his support for enactment of a state personal income tax; consideration of the proposal was delayed by leaders in the state legislature. [2] During Hughes' campaign for re-election, the tax issue was overshadowed by a political controversy arose when Eugene Genovese, an instructor at Rutgers University, publicly stated that he would "welcome a North Vietnamese victory" in Vietnam. [2] Hughes' Republican challenger, State Senator Wayne Dumont, called for Genovese to be fired; Hughes criticized Genovese's views as "outrageously wrong" but robustly but supported academic freedom. [3] [2]

With the backing of organized labor, Hughes was re-elected with 1,279,589 votes, with Dumont taking 915,996. [3] In his second term, he pushed for passage of a state income tax. Although both chambers of the legislature has Democratic majorities, the bill failed, having passed the state House but being defeated by a single vote in the state Senate. [2] In a compromise, the Legislature passed, and Hughes signed, the Sales and Use Tax Act, which established a 3% state sales tax effective in July 1966. [3] Hughes said "that to turn down any broad-based tax would relegate the state to second-class status." [2]

Hughes was a delegate to three Democratic National Conventions representing New Jersey. He attended Harry S. Truman's nomination for a full term as president in Philadelphia in 1948 (as an alternate), Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey's selection as standard bearer in Chicago in 1968 and Senator George S. McGovern's 1972 convention in Miami Beach.

Many credit the fact that then-President Lyndon B. Johnson had a very close friendship with Hughes, as one reason that Atlantic City hosted the 1964 Democratic National Convention. [5]

Hughes was one of three final candidates considered by Vice President and Presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey to be the Democratic Party's nominee for Vice President of the United States in 1968. [6]

Chief justice, 1973-1979

After serving as governor from 1962 to 1970, he served as the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court from 1973–1979, having been nominated for the post by his successor, William T. Cahill. [7] When Hughes was Chief Justice, the court issued a unanimous ruling in the Karen Ann Quinlan case, allowing an individual the right to refuse medical treatment and the right of a guardian to exercise that right if the patient cannot. [2]

Later life

Hughes left the Supreme Court in 1979 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70, and returned to the private practice of law. [3] In retirement, Hughes was of counsel at Hannoch Weisman, a New Jersey law firm, and split his time between Lawrenceville, New Jersey and Boca Raton, Florida. [4] He suffered a stroke in 1991, [4] and died the following year of congestive heart failure in Boca Raton. [2] [3] He was interred at St. Mary's Cemetery in Trenton, New Jersey. [3]


The building in Trenton, New Jersey which bears his name that houses the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety (headed by the Attorney General), the courtroom, chambers and offices of the State Supreme Court, the courtroom and several chambers and offices of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, and the administrative headquarters of the statewide court system, was dedicated as the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex, in 1982 in his honor. [8]

Personal life

Hughes had five sons, two daughters, and three stepsons. He married Miriam McGrory in 1935; they had four children. His first wife died in 1950; in 1955, he married Elizabeth Sullivan Murphy (d. 1983), and they had three children. [2]

Several of his children have become prominent in New Jersey law and politics. Hughes' stepson W. Michael Murphy Jr., a former Morris County prosecutor, [9] [10] placed third in the 1997 Democratic primary for governor of New Jersey. [10] Hughes' son Brian M. Hughes is the elected county executive of Mercer County. [9] [11]

See also

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Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex

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  1. "The United States Attorney's Office: District of New Jersey – A Rich History of Public Service". Archived from the original on December 30, 2008. Retrieved July 18, 2006.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Sullivan, Joseph F. (December 8, 1992). "Richard J. Hughes, Governor and Judge, Dies at 83". The New York Times . Retrieved March 26, 2008.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Stanley B. Winters, Governor Richard Hughes – Biography, The Governors of New Jersey: Biographical Essays (Reuters University Press, 2014): eds. Michael J. Birkner, Donald Linky & Peter Mickulas.
  4. 1 2 3 LeDuc, Daniel (December 8, 1992). "Ex-gov. Richard J. Hughes Dies". Philadelphia Inquirer.
  5. Jaffe, Herb (January 25, 1973). "Tearful Hughes Mourns a Great Patriot". The Star-Ledger. p. 8.
  6. White, Theodore H. (1969). The Making of the President 1968. New York: Atheneum Publishers. p. 355.
  7. Schwaneberg, Robert (December 29, 2005). "A critical choice for Corzine: Naming chief justice–Poritz's mandatory retirement creates several scenarios for powerful post". The Star-Ledger . In October 1973, Chief Justice Pierre Garven, a Republican, died after less than two months in the post. Then-Gov. William T. Cahill was a lame duck, having been dumped by the Republican Party in the primary. Democrats won both the governor's office and control of the Senate in the November election. Cahill nominated his Democratic predecessor, Richard J. Hughes, who had been a judge before becoming governor.
  8. Web page of the Office of the Attorney General, New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety. Accessed November 22, 2006.
  9. 1 2 Burt A. Folkart, Richard J. Hughes; Justice Wrote Decision in Quinlan Case, Los Angeles Times (December 8, 1992).
  10. 1 2 Barbara G. Salmore, New Jersey Politics and Government: The Suburbs Come of Age (Rutgers University Press: 4th ed. 2013), p. 64.
  11. Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman, County Executive Brian Hughes resting after cardiac surgery, Trentonian (December 15, 2008).
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert B. Meyner
Governor of New Jersey
January 16, 1962 – January 20, 1970
Succeeded by
William T. Cahill
Party political offices
Preceded by
Robert B. Meyner
Democratic Nominee for Governor of New Jersey
1961, 1965
Succeeded by
Robert B. Meyner
Legal offices
Preceded by
Pierre P. Garven
Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court
Succeeded by
Robert N. Wilentz