HDA Class of 1987
Richard J. Hughes
Chief Justice, State Supreme Court
School of Law–Newark 1931
Former New Jersey governor Richard J. Hughes started his career in the U.S. Attorney's Office, prosecuting espionage cases. Before running for governor in 1961, he had served as assistant U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, and as a judge on the Mercer County Court Bench, the state Superior Court, and later in the state Appellate Division. As governor, Hughes oversaw enactment of strong air and water pollution laws, signed the Hackensack Meadowlands Reclamation Act, installed a public defender system, established a state minimum wage, and guided to voter approval $1.4 billion in bonds to finance a new system of state-assisted community colleges. Hughes later chaired the American Bar Association's Commission on Prison Reform, and in 1973 became chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. Before reaching mandatory retirement age of 70 in 1979, he presided over an activist court, handing down trailblazing decisions on zoning, legislative redistricting, and public education. He was a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association's Sight and Life Committee until his death in 1992.