Cuban-Born Justice Inspired by Parents

New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina RLAW’81 is the court’s sole Hispanic justice and only the second in its history

New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina immigrated to the United States from Cuba in the early 1960s. “At 10 years old, I arrived in this country with my parents, not speaking a word of English,” Fernandez-Vina said during his confirmation hearing before the New Jersey State Senate in 2013.

More than 50 years after coming to America, when he was sworn in to the New Jersey Supreme Court on the stage of the Walter K. Gordon Theater at Rutgers University–Camden, Fernandez-Vina’s father, Faustino, was by his side holding the Bible on which he took the oath. “My parents, through courage and example, taught me the value of hard work, honesty, integrity, and giving one’s best every day without complaint,” Fernandez-Vina said during the 2013 hearing. His mother, Hortensia, had passed away a year before he joined the Supreme Court, and his father passed in 2015.

Fernandez-Vina, a 1981 graduate of Rutgers Law School in Camden, served as a superior court judge for nine years in the Camden Vicinage. In 2012, New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner named him assignment judge of the Camden Vicinage. Earlier in his career, he was a partner at Kelley, Wardell and Craig in Haddonfield from 1998 to 2004, and Capehart & Scatchard in New York from 1993 to 1998.

Known by his nickname “Fuzzy,” he was a standout football player for Haddon Heights High School and later at Widener University, where he earned his undergraduate degree. His longtime nickname was inspired during youth football when he was compared to Fuzzy Thurston, a star for the Green Bay Packers.

For related stories, visit “A Supreme Presence” and “Law Professor Instrumental in Landmark LGBT Decision” in the fall 2020 issue of Rutgers–Camden Magazine.

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