A funeral mass was performed Jan. 21 at St. Augustine’s Church for former state Supreme Court Justice Marie L. Garibaldi of Weehawken. She passed away Jan. 15. Justice Garibaldi was born in Jersey City to Dr. Louis and Marie S. Garibaldi. As an only child, she lived most of her life in Hudson County. The Garibaldis raised their daughter with a strong belief in equal opportunity for women and encouraged her to pursue a nontraditional career path. She was a pioneer and role model to so many.
She is survived by cousins, godchildren and many friends and colleagues.
As a child, Justice Garibaldi attended Stevens Hoboken Academy through 12th grade. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in economics and a political science minor from Connecticut College (New London, CT) in 1956. With an intent to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and attend business school, Justice Garibaldi learned first-hand women weren’t accepted. Instead, she enrolled in Columbia Law School as a pathway into the business world and graduated in 1959. In 1963, Justice Garibaldi earned her Masters of Laws degree in tax law from New York University School of Law. She was a member of the New Jersey, New York, and District of Columbia Bars and the first woman to serve as president of the New Jersey State Bar Association.
Justice Garibaldi began her legal career with the New York Regional Counsel in the Internal Revenue Service. She received extensive trial experience in Tax Court. The Hatch Act restricted government employees from political speech-making and article-writing which ultimately caused Justice Garibaldi to make her next career move. She briefly worked at a firm now known as Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland and Perretti – within three years she was made a partner, which was virtually unheard of at that time. While at Riker, Danzig, Justice Garibaldi also served as a municipal court judge in Weehawken, from 1973 to 1975 writing the majority of opinion in several cases affecting women. Justice Garibaldi was introduced to Thomas H. Kean by a Riker, Danzig partner. This ultimately led Justice Garibaldi to serve as co-chair of his gubernatorial campaign. Once elected, Gov. Kean nominated Justice Garibaldi to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
In 1982, Justice Garibaldi became the first woman appointed to the New Jersey Supreme Court and served as associate justice of New Jersey’s highest court until she retired in 2000. She authored more than 225 opinions while on the Supreme Court and was known for her advocacy of complementary dispute resolution. She chaired the Supreme Court’s committee on that subject, and in 1998, the American Inns of Court Foundation established the Justice Marie L. Garibaldi American Inn of Court for Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Justice Garibaldi was the recipient of many awards, including the Medal of Excellence from the Columbia University School of Law. She received honorary degrees from St. John’s University Law School, Seton Hall University Law School, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Drew University, Upsala College, St. Peter’s College, Caldwell College, and the College of Saint Elizabeth. Justice Garibaldi joined the Hackensack University Medical Center in 2001 and served as vice chair of Hackensack University Medical Center’s Board of Governors. She also served on the Hackensack University Health Network’s Board of Trustees, as chair of the Executive Compensation Committee and on the Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation’s Board of Trustees. She chaired the Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center and served as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Italian American Foundation. Justice Garibaldi also served as a director of Crown Holdings, Inc. from 2000 to 2007. She also served as a member of the New Jersey Council on Local Mandates. In addition, Justice Garibaldi served as the secretary of the American Association Order of Malta USA and executive vice president of the American Society of the Italian Legions of Merit. She also served as a director of the State Chamber of Commerce Bell Telephone Co., and the Washington Savings Bank. She also was a trustee of St. Peter’s College.
Justice Garibaldi truly enjoyed traveling, reading mysteries, and dinner and dancing with friends. She will be greatly missed by friends, loved ones and colleagues.
She was predeceased by her parents. Dr. Louis Garibaldi passed away in 1975 and her mother, Marie S. Garibaldi passed away in 2013 at the age of 103. Services arranged by the Leber Funeral Home, Union City.

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