NJ State Bar Foundation to present Medal of Honor awards in September

By NJSBA Staff posted 04-12-2018 12:43


The New Jersey State Bar Foundation (NJSBF) will present its highest award, the Medal of Honor, to Linda R. Feinberg, a retired superior court assignment judge in Mercer County, and Justin P. Walder, a partner at Pashman, Stein, Walder and Hayden.

The award, given each year to those who have made exemplary contributions to improving the justice system and enhancing New Jersey’s legal legacy, will be presented at the foundation’s Annual Medal of Honor Awards Dinner Reception on Monday, Sept. 17 at the Palace at Somerset Park in Somerset.

“Both our wonderful honorees this year have displayed excellence in their distinguished careers,” said Lynn Fontaine Newsome, president of the NJSBF. “In addition, they both have a profound record of service to the public and the profession. We are so thrilled to be able to recognize them with the foundation’s greatest accolade.”

“Professionalism and civility are traditions of the legal profession that should always be honored and celebrated,” said Susan Feeney, the foundation’s first vice president. “Our two medal awardees this year are shining examples of integrity and leadership, and I am so pleased the foundation will be recognizing their illustrious careers.”

Walder and Feinberg were unanimously named this year’s honorees by the Foundation Board of Trustees, led by Newsome, Feeney, and additional executive board members  Norbert A. Garcia, second vice president; Kathleen N. Fennelly, treasurer; and Charles J. Stoia, secretary.

 “Thoughtfulness, intelligence and pragmatism”

 Judge Feinberg began her legal career as a labor attorney with the U.S. Department of the Army. In Jan. 1975, she was appointed as an assistant prosecutor in Mercer County, and joined the faculty of The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in 1977, as part of the law and justice department.

While teaching at TCNJ, Feinberg entered private practice and was also appointed a municipal court judge in Lawrence, Hopewell and West Windsor townships. In 1988, she was appointed presiding judge of the municipal courts in Mercer County. 

In 1992, Governor James Florio appointed her to the New Jersey Superior Court. She served first as the presiding judge of the family part in Mercer County and then as assignment judge for the Mercer County Vicinage. She served in that position until her retirement in 2012. Shortly afterwards, she returned to private practice of counsel with the firm Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein & Blader in Lawrenceville.

 Craig Hubert, a partner at Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein & Blader who nominated Feinberg for the Medal of Honor, recalled meeting her when he was a young prosecutor and she was a judge. “In every case, she would approach the issues with the thoughtfulness, intelligence, and pragmatism that the litigants of this state have a right to expect from a Superior Court Judge,” he said “During her entire term as Assignment Judge, she worked to expand access to justice for the benefit of every citizen of Mercer County and our great state...I can think of no one more qualified to receive this award.”

‘Everything that is positive about being a lawyer’

Walder received acclaim for his professionalism beginning early in his career. In 1971, he was recognized by the New Jersey State Bar Association as the Outstanding Young Attorney of New Jersey.­­­ He began his career as a deputy attorney general, successfully defending the constitutionality of the Sunday closing laws. He went on to serve as an assistant Essex County prosecutor, where, as the chief of economic crimes, he prosecuted the largest Ponzi scheme in the state.

Currently co-chair of the litigation department at Pashman, Stein, Walder, Hayden, he notably represented a superior court judge in a case where the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed that the Pension and Healthcare Benefits Act violated the New Jersey Constitution. In 2016, he successfully argued a New Jersey Supreme Court case that led to the immediate reinstatement of a lawyer who had been disbarred. Walder has volunteered for countless educational seminars and served in a number of professional organizations, including six years as state chair of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation.

“Justin’s career is unrivaled in that he has been on the short list of go-to litigators, both on the civil and criminal sides, for decades, and he remains there today,” said Michael Stein, a fellow partner at Walder’s firm. “He has earned that longstanding recognition the old-fashioned way—by working hard, always sweating the details, and being an honorable professional. The way he has lived his life exemplifies everything that is positive about being a lawyer.”