Prosecutor Still Active, Successor Remains in Limbo
Judiciary committee has not yet ruled on governor's nomination, Florham Park attorney Fredric Knapp, to replace Robert Bianchi.
Even though Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi's term technically ended more than five months ago, he is prepared to personally handle the prosecution of a man charged with vehicular homicide for allegedly crashing while intoxicated into a Mount Arlington police cruiser on Interstate 80 last October and killing Joseph Wargo, the officer inside.
Referring to the fact his five-year appointment officially ended June 22, Bianchi told a judge Monday his status as prosecutor is "tenuous" and he will work to have a contingency plan for if he is replaced near the time of the defendant, Michael Cassella's, trial, according to reports by the Daily Record and The Star-Ledger.
Bianchi's involvement in the case comes amid the departure of an assistant prosecutor who is leaving for a job with a private firm, and a spate of homicides in 2011, the reports said.
Gov. Chris Christie nominated Florham Park attorney Fredric Knapp in June to be the next county prosecutor, but the the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has a Democratic majority, has not yet held a hearing on the nomination.
Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told the Daily Record he's not expecting the committee to meet this month, which would mean the governor would have to reappoint Knapp next year. Lesniak, a Democrat, also said he sees Bianchi as far more qualified for the job.
Gov. Jon Corzine appointed Bianchi to his five-year term in 2007.
Bianchi, who successfully prosecuted Jose Feliciano, found guilty last year of murdering the Rev. Edward Hinds of Chatham, has said he will do everything needed to ensure an orderly transition.
Messages were not returned Monday from the governor's office, Bianchi, Knapp, Lesniak and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari.