SPARTA, NJ – Nearly 150 people helped celebrate Judge John Mulhern’s retirement on Saturday night. The dinner at the Lake Mohawk Country Club was hosted by his wife Jayme and emceed by local attorney Andrew Fraser.
“It was wonderful,” Mulhern’s wife Jayme Mulhern said. “We did actually surprise him.”
Mulhern retired after serving in Sparta’s municipal courtroom since 1999. Throughout his career as a judge Mulhern also sat on the bench in Hardyston, Hamburg, Newton, Ogdensburg, and Stanhope. At one time he was serving in 10 towns.
“It was crazy,” Jayme Mulhern said. “It is a 24 hour job.”
The dinner was attended by local attorneys, court administrators and police officers.
“It was a humbling experience,” Jayme Mulhern said. “My husband was touched and humbled.”
She said she was proud to see a room full of people who admired and respected the judge.
“All of the officers at Sparta Police Department that have worked with Judge Mulhern will miss him,” Sparta Police Chief Neil Spidaletto said. “Not only was he respected and fair on the bench, he took the time to teach and guide officers in different areas of law enforcement. We were very fortunate to have him as our municipal court judge for all those years and wish him well in his retirement.”
A common sentiment shared by Mulhern’s many well wishers was that he showed uncommon compassion and would often give counsel in his courtroom.
“Last night was really beautiful to see all the people telling funny and even sad stories,” Jayme Mulhern said.
Many took the podium to share stories about their experiences with Mulhern. He received two extended standing ovations that “just said it all” according to an attendee.
“He challenged the people to do better, to do the right thing and to be safe,” Sparta attorney Jackie O’Donnell said.
“He loved the law and the judicial process,” Jayme Mulhern said. “He really identified with that.”
His wife said that there were sacrifices along the way, especially that he was not able to socialize with the people from work. That made it all the more special to have the people at the party, able to “realize that they are our friends.” They are looking forward to socializing and “enjoy going out to dinner.”
Mostly Jayme Mulhern is “thrilled to have him all to myself.”
Sparta’s new judge was sworn in at the township council meeting on Tuesday, January 23. Paris Eliades commented that he had “some really big shoes to fill.” Eliades also said he had long aspired to be Sparta’s judge and would “do my best to do a great job.”
While Mulhern’s wife has “quite a big ‘to do’ list" they also have plans. “People gave generous monetary gifts,” she said. “I left it up to him how to spend it, he just can’t use it to pay bills.” Jayme Mulhern said they are planning to travel.
“In my 28 years as an attorney in Sparta, I never once heard him utter an unkind or terse word, whether to a defendant or an attorney,” O’Donnell said. “Judge Mulhern is loved by so many and will be sorely missed.”