TRENTON – In a significant announcement today, Governor Phil Murphy revealed his selection of Jennifer Sellitti to assume the role of New Jersey’s next Public Defender. This appointment comes as Public Defender Joe Krakora prepares to retire on January 31, and Sellitti’s nomination will soon be presented to the Senate for approval for a full five-year term.
Governor Murphy commended Sellitti’s extensive background, stating, “With over two decades of experience as a public defender and 17 years working within the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, including in leadership roles, Jennifer Sellitti is ideally suited to be New Jersey’s next Public Defender.”
He continued, “Jennifer’s efforts to ensure all defendants have effective legal representation have earned wide respect throughout our legal community. I look forward to working with Jennifer to continue our administration’s work to make New Jersey’s criminal justice system fairer and more equitable.”
Sellitti, who currently serves as the Director of the Office of the Public Defender (OPD), expressed her gratitude for the nomination. “I am incredibly grateful to Governor Murphy for nominating me to lead the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender into the future,” said Sellitti. “I look forward to leveraging our agency experience and talent to move in a more holistic direction and to broaden community engagement to put and keep clients at the center of all we do.”
The Office of the Public Defender, led by the Public Defender, ensures the constitutional right to an attorney for indigent residents seeking criminal defense. The Public Defender formulates overall policy, directs the administration of all programs, and coordinates the work of trial regions, appellate offices, and special units statewide.
Governor Murphy took a moment to acknowledge Public Defender Joe Krakora’s contributions, noting, “I am grateful to Joe Krakora for his service as New Jersey’s Public Defender since 2011. Together we have taken steps towards building one of the most progressive criminal justice systems in the nation, including victories such as eliminating fees for public defender services in New Jersey. I wish him nothing but the best in his retirement.”
Sellitti’s career with the OPD began in November 2006 as an Assistant Deputy Public Defender in the Essex County Adult Region. She later advanced to the position of Deputy Public Defender in the Middlesex Trial Region, managing a regional office with responsibilities for adult and juvenile defendants.
Sellitti holds a Bachelor of Science from Boston University and a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School.
Public Defender Joseph Krakora expressed confidence in Sellitti’s abilities, stating, “I am pleased that the Governor has nominated my long-time professional colleague and friend Jen Sellitti to become the next public defender. I am confident that she will build on the successes achieved by this office during the past 12 years. We will work together to ensure a smooth transition.”
Senators Vin Gopal and Declan O’Scanlon also voiced their support for Sellitti’s appointment, highlighting her dedication to representing vulnerable communities and commending her qualifications and commitment to public service.
Sellitti’s appointment marks a significant step in the ongoing efforts to advance New Jersey’s criminal justice system and ensure effective legal representation for all residents.