SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - At a special swearing in ceremony held Aug. 26, Mayor Matthew P. Anesh officially named Katherine E. Howes as municipal court judge for the borough of South Plainfield. Howes, who applied to fill the remaining two-plus years left on Spencer Robbins’ unexpired term, will bring to South Plainfield more than 20 years of private law and judicial experience.
After earning her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University’s Edmund E. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Howes spent seven years working in international marketing and financial services while working toward her Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall University’s School of Law. She began her judicial career in 1989 when she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Edward W. Beglin, A.J.S.C. in Union County’s Superior Court. Howes started a private law practice in 1991 and a year later formed Howes & Howes with her husband, W. Timothy Howes. The general practice firm with an emphasis on family law is located on Anderson Street in Raritan.
Fluent in Spanish and French, she was one of the first municipal court judge to speak Spanish from the bench when she served as municipal court judge for Raritan Borough from 1991 to 1996. The following year until 2000 she served as municipal public defender for Peapack-Gladstone, Bernardsville and Far Hills and, from 1999 to 2000, filled in for her husband as an associate township prosecutor for Mercer County’s Washington Township (Robbinsville).
In January 2001, Howes was appointed to her first of four consecutive one-year terms as prosecutor for Somerset County’s Borough of Far Hills. She served on the Borough of Peapack and Gladstone’s Land Use Board from 2007 to 2010, resigning in 2010 when she was elected to the borough’s council. In January 2012, Howes was sworn in as municipal court judge of Bound Brook Borough and is currently serving the last year of the three-year term.
Howes has been an active member of Somerset County Superior Court’s Early Settlement Panel since 2002, a trained mediator with the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators since 2007 and a trained collaborative lawyer with the Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota since 2009. She is a past chair of the District XIII Attorney Fee Arbitration Committee and a past member of the District XII Attorney Ethics Board. She has also served as treasurer of the Somerset County Family Law Inns of Court and was a court-appointed economic mediator for the Somerset County Superior Court. Additionally, Howes served on the Board of Directors of Anderson House in Readington and, in 2011, was named ‘Outstanding Woman of the Year in Law’ by the Somerset County Commission the Status of Women. Howes will be South Plainfield’s first female municipal court judge.
“Judge Howes will bring keen insight and a wealth of judicial experience to the South Plainfield Municipal Court,” said Anesh. “She will serve the public well.”