Daniel Joseph O'Hern

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Daniel Joseph O'Hern
New Jersey Supreme Court
In office
August 6, 1981 – 2000
Nominated by Brendan Byrne
Preceded by Mark A. Sullivan
Succeeded by James Ronald Zazzali
Personal details
Born (1930-05-23)May 23, 1930
Red Bank, New Jersey
Died April 1, 2009(2009-04-01) (aged 78)
Red Bank, New Jersey
Spouse(s) Barbara

Daniel Joseph O'Hern (May 23, 1930 – April 1, 2009)[1] was a former Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, where he served from August 6, 1981 until his retirement upon his 70th birthday.[2]

Life and career

O'Hern was born in Red Bank in 1930 and attended Regis High School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He graduated from Fordham College in 1951. O'Hern served in the United States Navy from 1951 to 1954, during the Korean War, attaining the rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade. After leaving form active duty, he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1957, and served as a clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.[2]

He was an elected official in his hometown of Red Bank, serving on its borough council and as Mayor of Red Bank, New Jersey. Governor of New Jersey Brendan Byrne named him a commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and later as Counsel to the Governor. Byrne submitted his Supreme Court nomination to the New Jersey Senate, and he was confirmed on May 20, 1981, and sworn in on August 6, 1981.[2]

Judge O’Hern’s opinion in State in the Interest of T.L.O. (1983) concerning administrative or teacher searches of public school students was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court in New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985).

He retired at age 70, and was replaced by James R. Zazzali.[3]

O'Hern and his wife Barbara have been residents of Little Silver, New Jersey.[2] Their daughter, Eileen Marie O'Hern, married William Kent Luby.[4]

O'Hern died at age 78 on April 1, 2009 due to brain cancer at his home in Red Bank.[5]

O'Hern was noted for his "Sal's tavern" test, which suggested that if an opinion wouldn't make sense to the "gang" at Sal's Tavern in Red Bank, New Jersey it should be rewritten.[6]

The train station in Red Bank was named in his honor in November 2014.[7]


  1. Martin, Douglas (April 2, 2009). "Daniel J. O’Hern, Longtime New Jersey Supreme Court Justice, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2009. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Justice O'Hern Celebrates 70th Birthday and Retirement from NJ Supreme Court", New Jersey Supreme Court press release. Accessed June 4, 2008.
  3. "With Sixth Pick, Whitman Adds To Imprint On Top Court". Bergen Record. May 5, 2000. Retrieved 2008-06-04. Continuing her makeover of the state Supreme Court, Governor Whitman on Thursday chose former state Attorney General James R. Zazzali to replace retiring Justice Daniel J. O'Hern on the high court.  line feed character in |quote= at position 134 (help)
  4. "Eileen M. O'Hern Engaged to Wed". New York Times. November 11, 1990. Retrieved 2008-06-04. 
  5. "Retired Justice Daniel O'Hern dies at 78". Asbury Park Press. April 2, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2009. [dead link]
  6. Martin, Douglas (April 2, 2009). "Daniel J. O’Hern, Longtime New Jersey Supreme Court Justice, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2009. 
  7. Burton, John (November 21, 2014). "Red Bank Rail Station to Be Named for Former Mayor O’Hern". The Two River Times. Retrieved November 24, 2014.