Judicial retirement & promotion shake up Ocean County court system

Ocean County Courthouse

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner announced that Superior Court Judge Francis R. Hodgson Jr. will lead the Ocean Vicinage, effective Feb. 1.

Hodgson will succeed Assignment Judge Marlene Lynch Ford, who is retiring after more than 24 years on the bench, seven as assignment judge.

“We congratulate Judge Ford on a remarkable career that encompassed all three branches of government, culminating with her impressive contributions to the Judiciary. Judge Hodgson is an exemplary judge with broad experience who is poised to continue the tradition of excellent leadership in the Ocean Vicinage,” Chief Justice Rabner said.

Judge Hodgson was appointed to the bench by Gov. Jon Corzine in 2007. In 2014, Gov. Chris Christie renominated him to the Superior Court. He first served in the family division before moving to the criminal division in 2008. He served in the criminal division until 2015, when he was named presiding judge of General Equity.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to lead the hard-working staff and judges of the Ocean Vicinage and am grateful for Chief Justice Rabner’s confidence in my ability to continue to uphold the exceptional reputation of the Judiciary,” Judge Hodgson said.

Judge Hodgson earned his bachelor’s degree from Stockton State College and a master’s degree from Monmouth University. He received his law degree from Villanova University.

He worked as a law clerk to Ocean Vicinage Civil Presiding Judge Frank R. Buczynski and was in private practice for a year before joining the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office in 1997.

Ford was elected to the State Assembly in 1983, defeating freshman Republican Assemblyman Warren Wolf. At 29, she was the youngest woman to be elected to the General Assembly.

She was defeated for re-election in 1985 by Republican Robert Singer, but regained her seat in a 1989 rematch with Singer.

She lost her seat again in the 1991 Republican landslide but the following year, Ford was appointed to the Superior Court by Governor James Florio and reappointed with tenure in 1999.

Governor Jon Corzine appointed Ford to serve as Ocean County Prosecutor in 2007 and Governor Chris Christie appointed her to serve as a judge on the New Jersey Superior Court in 2013.

A resident of Toms River, she was elevated to Assignment Judge of Ocean County in 2015.

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