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John J. Farmer, Jr. Named Dean of the Law School

April 17, 2009 – 
Rutgers University President Richard L. McCormick has announced the appointment of the eminent attorney and former New Jersey Attorney General John J. Farmer, Jr. as Dean of Rutgers School of Law–Newark. Farmer will begin his post on July 1, 2009. Stuart L. Deutsch, who has served as Dean of the law school since 1999, will return to the faculty as University Professor of Law.

“Rutgers is extremely pleased to announce John Farmer, Jr. as the new Dean for our distinguished law school in Newark,” commented President McCormick. “As one of our state’s most respected former public officials and attorneys, he brings outstanding leadership abilities that will most certainly translate into dynamic advocacy and advancement for the School of Law–Newark.”

“The appointment of John Farmer, Jr. as Dean of Rutgers Law School in Newark is a moment for celebration,” added Chancellor Steven J. Diner. “The breadth and depth of his knowledge of legal affairs and practice in New Jersey, the U.S. and globally will be an outstanding asset for Rutgers University in Newark.”

“I am honored by this appointment, and grateful for the support I have received from the law school alumni, the students, the faculty, the search committee and the Rutgers University administration,” Farmer said. “I look forward to building on the solid foundation developed by Dean Deutsch, and to working with an outstanding faculty of legal scholars and a world-class group of students.”

Farmer received his J.D. in 1986 from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was a member of The Tax Lawyer and received first prize in the 1984 Lincoln and the Law Essay Contest. His distinguished career spans government service in high-profile appointments to private practice in diverse areas of criminal law.

As Senior Counsel and Team Leader of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (commonly known as the 9/11 Commission), he led the investigation of the country’s preparedness for and response to the terrorist attacks and was a principal author of the Commission’s final report. As Attorney General for the State of New Jersey, Farmer supervised more than 600 attorneys and 8,000 employees in 10 divisions. His noteworthy accomplishments include arguing school funding and criminal justice matters before the New Jersey Supreme Court; achieving reform of the New Jersey State Police, from eliminating racial profiling to increasing diversity in recruitment and promotion; and creating the Office of Inspector General to investigate allegations of official impropriety and/or corruption. He also served in the administration of New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman as chief counsel, deputy chief counsel, and assistant counsel. Farmer is president of the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, a member of the New Jersey Governor’s Ethics Advisory Board, and sits on the State Ethics Commission and the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.

“John Farmer is known throughout the legal community for his integrity, his intelligence, his determined yet collegial management of difficult issues, and his steadfast commitment to the rule of law,” commented Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz (Ret.), who is of counsel with Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.

“I’m delighted that John Farmer has been selected to be my successor,” said Dean Deutsch. “He is an outstanding lawyer and leader of the New Jersey and national bar.”

The new dean is no stranger to Rutgers Law School, having taught National Security Law as an adjunct professor since 2005. Before that he taught a course in New Jersey Constitutional Law. In 2005 Farmer delivered the 2005 Paul S. Miller Distinguished Lecture on the topic “The Rule of Law in an Age of Terror.”

John Farmer, Jr. began his career as a law clerk to Associate Justice Alan B. Handler of the New Jersey Supreme Court. He then worked for two years as a litigation associate at Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti LLP before joining the Office of the U.S. Attorney in Newark, where he prosecuted crimes ranging from kidnapping and arms dealing to bank fraud.

In 2007 Farmer became a founding partner of the law firm Arseneault, Whipple, Farmer, Fassett and Azzarello, LLP in Chatham, NJ. Prior to that, he was a partner in K&L Gates, Newark. He has received the highest peer-reviewed rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and has been named a New Jersey Super Lawyer, one of New York Magazine’s Best Lawyers in the New York area, and one of the Best Lawyers in America. In 2008, he served as senior advisor to General James Jones, Special Envoy for Middle East Regional Security, on development of the rule of law in the Palestinian Authority territory, and was invited by the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia, to assist that nation’s legislative commission in investigating widespread violence and unrest following its elections.

Farmer, who holds a B.A. in English from Georgetown University, is a frequent contributor on legal and political issues to The Star-Ledger and The New York Times. His most recent op-ed column, titled “Prosecutors Gone Wild,” was published in the April 3 New York Times. His book, The Ground Truth: The Story Behind America’s Defense on 9/11, a reexamination of the government’s response on 9/11 in light of its response to Hurricane Katrina, is scheduled to be published this fall by Riverhead/Penguin.

“John Farmer’s accomplishments, particularly as a member of the 9/11 Commission and as New Jersey’s Attorney General during a difficult period, speak for themselves,” said George C. Thomas III, Rutgers Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of Law. “He is known in the state, in the nation, and, indeed, around the world as a man with many talents, including integrity, exceptional judgment, and the ability to get the job done. I know that my enthusiasm for his appointment as the next dean of Rutgers School of Law–Newark is widely shared by the faculty and the student body.”

A native of Jersey City, NJ, Farmer lives with his wife, Beth Gates, in Flemington, NJ.