Christopher Porrino

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Christopher Porrino
Headshot-Porrino, Christopher -AG office by flags 2017.jpg
60th Attorney General of New Jersey
In office
June 21, 2016 – January 16, 2018
Acting: June 21, 2016 – August 1, 2016
Governor Chris Christie
Preceded by Robert Lougy (Acting)
Succeeded by Gurbir Grewal
Personal details
Born 1966/1967 (age 51–52)[1]
Teaneck, New Jersey, U.S.
Political party Independent
Education Lehigh University (BA)
Seton Hall University (JD)

Christopher S. Porrino (born October 20, 1967) is a nonpartisan American trial lawyer who served as the Attorney General of New Jersey from 2016 to 2018.[2][3] Porrino is currently a partner of Lowenstein Sandler, and chair of the firm's Litigation Department.

Porrino was born in Teaneck and raised in Fort Lee and Englewood Cliffs. He is a resident of Summit, New Jersey, where he lives with his wife, Christina, and their two children.[4][5]

Education[edit]

Porrino graduated from Lehigh University and received his law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law. He is admitted to the bars of the State of New Jersey and the State of New York, and is admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit.

Law practice[edit]

Porrino began his legal career as a law clerk (1992-1993) for then-Magistrate Judge Freda L. Wolfson, U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey. He then worked as an associate (promoted to partner) at Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis (1993-2004). Porrino joined Lowenstein Sandler as a partner (2004-2012) and served as vice chair of the firm’s Litigation Department, focusing his practice on criminal and civil trials.

Porrino left private practice for public service (2012-2018). He held a variety of positions at the State of New Jersey, including Director of the Division of Law (2012-2014), Chief Counsel to Governor Christie (2014-2015), and Attorney General (2016-2018).

After serving as the 60th Attorney General of New Jersey, Porrino returned to Lowenstein Sandler in 2018 as a partner and chair of the firm’s Litigation Department. He is a crisis manager (having represented numerous private and public companies and individuals in alleged scandals, including Governor Christie during the Bridgegate affair), and currently represents individuals and businesses of all sizes in civil, criminal, and regulatory matters involving securities, consumer fraud, banking, insurance, tax, antitrust, real estate, and the environment. He also regularly conducts internal investigations for clients faced with allegations of wrongdoing by insiders.

Christie administration[edit]

Porrino served as Director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General's Office[4] from February 2012 to January 2014, overseeing a team of 800 state employees, 500 of whom were lawyers.

Porrino argued the landmark Harvey Cedars “dunes” case, before the New Jersey Supreme Court. The decision in 2013 paved the way for the state’s shore protection and the dune construction projects that followed.

From January 2014 through July 2015, Porrino served as Chief Counsel to the Christie administration. On his first day as Chief Counsel, the Fort Lee lane closure scandal, known as "Bridgegate", broke in the news media. As Chief Counsel, Porrino navigated the Governor's Office through that crisis and the myriad legal issues that followed. In that role, he also had broad responsibility overseeing appointments, legislative matters, and all state authorities.

Porrino worked closely with Governor Christie and members of the New Jersey Legislature to secure the passage of numerous pieces of critical legislation, including the Criminal Justice Reform Act (i.e., bail reform).

He was involved in the state's controversial ExxonMobil-New Jersey environmental contamination settlement.[6][7][8][8]

New Jersey Attorney General[edit]

In June 2016, Porrino was nominated by the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie to be the New Jersey Attorney General, and served as Acting Attorney General until unanimously confirmed by the Senate on August 1, 2016.[9][10]

Under his leadership, the Attorney General’s Office created and enacted what was then the strictest prescribing rules in the country aimed at curtailing the over-dispensing of highly addictive pain medication, and proposed regulations to prevent prescribing physicians from being influenced by gifts and other rewards from pharmaceutical companies. He targeted “pill mills” and professionals engaged in indiscriminate prescribing, resulting in more civil and criminal charges filed against medical professionals during his term than during any comparable period in the history of the department. He oversaw the expansion of the state’s prescription monitoring program (PMP), including the implementation of mandatory PMP look-ups by prescribers and interconnectivity with PMPs from a number of other states.[11]

Porrino oversaw the implementation of bail reform in New Jersey. Using a validated risk assessment tool, dangerous and high-risk defendants are now held in custody and can no longer “buy” their way out of jail pending trial.[11]

Porrino targeted violent crime in New Jersey, including gun violence, taking almost 5,000 guns out of circulation over a single weekend. He also led a multi-department cooperative effort to address critical public safety issues in Trenton.[12]

To help identify potential cases of corruption, Porrino’s office launched an Anti-Corruption Whistleblower Program. Among other examples, the office indicted and convicted Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres of the City of Paterson and three city employees on corruption charges.[13]

To combat elder abuse, Porrino’s office became the country’s first to loan hidden cameras to citizens who suspected that their elders were being abused. The “Safe Care Cam Program” gives participants the opportunity to covertly observe the care being given to their loved ones.[14]

In 2016, on the child protection front, Porrino drafted legislation that strengthened child protection statutes and increased penalties for those engaged in child pornography in New Jersey. The department investigated and prosecuted persons who violated the child protection laws, including “Operation Statewide,” a statewide sweep that resulted in the arrest of forty men on charges of child pornography, and “Operation Safety Net”[15] that resulted in the arrest of another seventy-nine men on child exploitation charges.[16]

To combat distracted driving, Porrino spearheaded a campaign to encourage the public to report distracted driving violations through the state’s #77 hotline in response to the burgeoning numbers of distracted drivers. The New Jersey State Police sent warning letters to those reported to inform motorists that their vehicles have been spotted being driven dangerously or by a distracted driver and warning them of the penalties if caught by the police.[17]

In the civil rights area, the department prosecuted numerous acts of discrimination. In a case that received national attention, Porrino led a civil rights action against the Township of Mahwah wherein it was alleged that local officials engaged in a pattern of discrimination to exclude Orthodox Jews.[18]

In the area of juvenile justice, he led the planned closure of a Civil War-era youth prison as part of other important reforms of the state's juvenile justice system. [19]

In the area of community policing, Porrino and the department implemented the first statewide community policing grant program, named in honor of fallen police officer Matthew Tarentino. The department designed and mandated the first-ever statewide continuing education curriculum to train police on de-escalation, cultural awareness, and implicit bias. [20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Christie nominates his former chief counsel as N.J. attorney general". NJ.com. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  2. ^ "Christie attorney general pick approved by N.J. Senate after Bridgegate questions". NJ.com. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  3. ^ "Christie's top lawyer survived Bridgegate, fought opioids and is now talking about it". NJ.com. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Attorney General Names Christopher S. Porrino Director of the Division of Law", New Jersey Attorney General, January 31, 2012. Accessed June 18, 2016.
  5. ^ Rybolt, Barbara. "Summit man, Gov. Christie's new chief counsel, is quiet on Bridgegate", Independent Press, January 13, 2014. Accessed June 18, 2016. "Today, Jan. 13, Summit resident Christopher Porrino, 47, started his first day as chief counsel for Gov. Chris Christie.... The father of two boys ages 12 and 14, he and his wife Christina Shenoudamoved to Summit when they got married in 1997 and have been here ever since."
  6. ^ "Christie Aide Took Political Trips Before Exxon Settlement - NJ Spotlight". Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  7. ^ Burd, Joshua. "Christie's chief counsel returning to Lowenstein Sandler firm; McElroy Deutsch lawyer tabbed as replacement", NJBiz, July 17, 2015. Accessed June 18, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Weiser, Benjamin (March 4, 2015). "Christie's Office Drove Exxon Settlement, Ex-Official Says". Retrieved January 15, 2018 – via NYTimes.com.
  9. ^ "Christie attorney general pick approved by N.J. Senate after Bridgegate questions".
  10. ^ "Christie nominates his former chief counsel as N.J. attorney general".
  11. ^ a b "State of New Jersey". nj.gov.
  12. ^ "State of New Jersey". nj.gov.
  13. ^ "State of New Jersey". nj.gov.
  14. ^ "State of New Jersey". www.nj.gov.
  15. ^ "79 charged with child porn, preying on kids in 'Operation Safety Net'".
  16. ^ "State of New Jersey". www.nj.gov.
  17. ^ "State of New Jersey". nj.gov.
  18. ^ "Mahwah Township Excluded Orthodox Jews, State Claims In Lawsuit". October 24, 2017.
  19. ^ "Governor Christie Announces Unprecedented Investment in Juvenile Justice System - Insider NJ".
  20. ^ "State of New Jersey". nj.gov.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Robert Lougy
Acting
Attorney General of New Jersey
2016–2018
Succeeded by
Gurbir Grewal