Reflecting On Roger W. Daley

By John P. Paone, Jr., Esq.

Hon. Roger W. Daley (left) poses for a photo with John P. Paone, Jr., Esq.

Hon. Roger W. Daley (left) poses for a photo with John P. Paone, Jr., Esq.

On February 1, 2012, the Hon. Roger W. Daley retired from the Superior Court. Roger was appointed to the bench in 1996 and received tenure in 2003. He spent all but five months of his 16-year judicial career in the Family Part. During my 30 years of practicing family law, I can say that there have been very few judges across the entire state who have made that type of commitment to the Family Part.

The work in the Family Part is more stressful and demanding than in any other division in the courthouse. In the Family Part, the judges (not jurors) make the difficult decisions. In most cases, the judge can make neither side happy and frequently will draw the ire of both parties. Because the demands of bench time are so rigorous, Family Part judges must regularly devote their evenings and weekends to addressing the paperwork which accumulates during the normal court day (i.e. reading and deciding Motions; writing and settling forms of Orders; writing opinions, etc.). To his credit, Judge Daley volunteered for this duty, putting himself on the spot and taking the criticism along the way.

Roger’s background made him well prepared for his time on the bench. He grew up in Old Bridge and graduated in 1963 from South River High School where he is honored as a member of the High School’s Wall of Fame. After graduating from Rutgers University, he was drafted into the United States Army in 1967, at the age of 22. He served in the 25th infantry, and before long he was doing a tour of duty in Vietnam. Roger witnessed firsthand the evil, death and suffering experienced in that war.

After returning home from the war, Roger received his law degree and a master’s degree in Theology. After a successful political career, Roger was appointed to the Superior Court.

When I reflect on Roger’s time on the bench, I am reminded of the closing line of President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address given on January 20, 1961. Most people remember certain phrases from that address, but few recall that JFK’s address ended in this way . . .

“And so my fellow Americans, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessings and His help, but knowing that here on earth, God’s work must truly be our own.”

Roger Daley truly did God’s work on the bench. He made it his mission, indeed his calling, at every turn to protect and defend the families and the children who appeared before him. While he undoubtedly will remain active in pursuit of the causes to which he has dedicated his life, Roger’s retirement represents a loss to our exemplary bench in Middlesex County. He will be missed. Godspeed my friend.

John P. Paone, Jr. is the 2011-12 President of the Middlesex County Bar Association. He was the 1995-96 Chair of the New Jersey State Bar Association Family Law Section. He is the 2011-12 President-elect of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers New Jersey Chapter. He practices family law with the Law Offices of Paone, Zaleski & Brown in Woodbridge and Red Bank.

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