John E. Keefe, Jr. along with four other State Bar Trustees Running for Secretary, First Step to Presidency

Attorney John E. Keefe, Jr.
Charles Toutant
New Jersey Law Journal


Five lawyers, the largest number since 2006, are seeking State Bar Nominating Committee backing for the post of secretary, the first step on the six- year trek to the presidency.

The candidates are all current Bar trustees. Three — Robert Brass, Bonnie Blume Goldsamt and Amirali Haidri — are solos, while Robert Hille and John Keefe Jr. are partners at litigation firms.
The candidate selected by the committee usually runs unopposed, but the wide field of contenders could point to a contested election, as occurred in 2011.

Goldsamt and Haidri sought the nomination last year but the committee chose Thomas Prol, now secretary.

Goldsamt, of Verona, practices family law, civil litigation and dispute resolution. Before going solo, she was with Steven Morey Greenberg in Hackensack from 1987 to 1989, with Rose & DeFuccio in Hackensack from 1984 to 1987, an assistant Essex County counsel handling civil litigation from 1982 to 1984, and an associate at Cole, Schotz, Meisel, Forman & Leonard in Hackensack from 1980 to 1982.
She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1967, earned a master’s degree in politics from New York University in 1971 and graduated from Rutgers Law School-Newark in 1979.

If elected, she wants to see the association examine the feasibility of providing a health insurance program to members. She says she would like to change a state law that bars professional associations from doing so.

Haidri, of Springfield, handles personal injury, professional malpractice, products liability, workers’ compensation, and patent and trademark cases.

He previously was a partner with Haidri, Glazer & Kamel in Elizabeth from 1984 to 1988, a patent attorney at Lever Brothers Co. from 1982 to 1984; a patent attorney at Texaco Development Corp. from 1981 to 1982, and prior to that with firms in New York City and Liverpool, England.

Haidri graduated from the University of Leeds in 1971 and New York Law School in 1980 and earned a master’s in organic chemistry from New York University in 1983.

He has served on the Supreme Court Committee on Attorney Advertising since 2008 and been a Union County Bar Association trustee since 2002. He is a member of the State Bar’s Amicus Curiae and Appellate Practice committees.

If elected, he says, he would work to improve the association’s outreach to young lawyers by offering workshops to fill the void left by the elimination of the Skills and Methods Course.

Brass, of Bloomfield, was of counsel to Brian Neary’s firm in Hackensack from 2009 to 2011; a senior litigator with Picillo, Caruso, Pope, Edell & Picini in Fairfield from 2008 to 2009; a deputy attorney general in the Division of Criminal Justice from 1999 to 2008 and before that an assistant prosecutor in Essex and Middlesex counties. He served as chair of the State Bar’s Criminal Law Section in 2006-2007.

He graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law in 1986 and Seton Hall University in 1969.
Brass says that if he is elected he would work to get more public-sector lawyers involved in the association.

Hille represents insurers and healthcare institutions at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter in Morristown, where he is a partner.

He graduated from Bucknell University in 1980 and Seton Hall University School of Law in 1983.
He is chair of the State Bar’s Insurance Benefits and Amicus Curiae committees and a member of the Malpractice Insurance Committee and the Health and Hospital Law Section. He is also a past president of the Bergen County Bar Association.

Keefe, a founder of Keefe Law Firm in Red Bank, concentrates on negligence, product liability and mass tort cases. He handles nursing home negligence, hospital negligence, Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations, premises liability and motor vehicle wrongful death cases. He served as president of Trial Attorneys of New Jersey in 2009 and is chair of the State Bar’s Civil Trial Section.
He graduated from Seton Hall School of Law and Gettysburg College, and was admitted to the bar in 1990.

In the 2011 election, two candidates endorsed by the Nominating Committee handily fought off challengers. Angela Dalton beat Ivette Alvarez for the secretary post, and William Ferreira defeated Amy Cores for an at-large trustee seat.

That campaign was contentious, with Alvarez accusing Dalton of a conflict of interest due to her past service on the Nominating Committee. In addition, Cores and a Dalton supporter were cited by the Election Committee for violating an association policy against use of State Bar listservs to disseminate campaign material.

Before the 2011 race, the Bar’s last contested election was in 1993, when the Nominating Committee’s choice for secretary, Raymond Londa, was defeated by Joseph Bottitta.

Once elected secretary, the officer moves lockstep each year through the posts of treasurer, second vice president, first vice president, president-elect and president.