Peter G. Verniero is Chair of the Firm’s Corporate Internal Investigations and Appellate Practice Groups.
Since joining the Firm in September of 2004, he has worked on a number of significant matters. He has, for example, advised numerous entities in matters pending before various state and federal regulatory or law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of N.J. and the U.S. Department of Justice. He has conducted internal investigations of large, public companies, in addition to advising business entities on document retention policies and on the rules governing discovery of electronically stored information.
Mr. Verniero represented Third Point
LLC as part of its proxy contest for the election of directors to the board of
Campbell Soup Co. Working with New York counsel, he filed suit on Third Point’s
behalf in state court in the Camden Vicinage.
Mr. Verniero argued twice in court before the matter settled, with Third
Point successfully placing two of its nominees on the Campbell board and
gaining a role in selecting a third director and the hiring of Campbell’s CEO.
Prior to joining the Firm, Mr. Verniero served in senior positions within the executive and judicial branches of state government. Appointed by Governor Christine Todd Whitman as her chief counsel, Mr. Verniero served in that capacity from January 1994 to February 1995, when he became the governor’s chief of staff. He remained in that position until July 1996, when he became Attorney General of New Jersey. As Attorney General, he personally argued cases before the New Jersey Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. For example, in E.B. v. Verniero, 119 F.3d 1077 (3d Cir. 1997), he argued successfully in defense of Megan’s Law, New Jersey’s sexual-offender notification statute. At the time of the court’s decision, it was the first federal appellate court ruling in the country upholding a state’s version of Megan’s Law.
Mr. Verniero was appointed to the Supreme Court of New Jersey in 1999. As an associate justice for a five-year period from September 1999 to August 2004, Mr. Verniero authored and signed 124 judicial opinions touching on a wide array of civil and criminal areas, including employment, corporate, and constitutional law. For instance, he authored the Court’s opinion in In re PSE & G Shareholder Litigation, 173 N.J. 258 (2002), which articulated and applied a modified business judgment rule in upholding the dismissal of shareholder-derivative litigation. That opinion has been cited by numerous courts, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Court of Appeals for the State of California, and the Supreme Court of Minnesota. Other judicial opinions authored by Mr. Verniero have been cited by courts at different levels in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Hampshire, Alabama, and Hawaii.
Mr. Verniero annotates and provides
commentary to the Rules Governing the
Courts of the State of New Jersey, a widely used reference guide for the
legal profession published by Gann Law Books.
Mr. Verniero’s essays on legal and
public policy issues also are widely published and have appeared in such publications
as The Wall Street Journal, TheNew
York Times, TheStar-Ledger of Newark, ThePhiladelphia
Inquirer, the Investor’s Business
Daily, the New Jersey Law Journal, and
the Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards,
including, most recently, in 2017, recognition as a "Distinguished Leader" by the New Jersey Law Journal. In 2016, he received the Medal of Honor, the highest award
conferred by the New Jersey Bar Foundation.
As another example, in 2004, he received the Gatekeeper Award in
recognition of his “leadership in restoring public confidence in the law,”
given by Common Good, a national bipartisan legal reform organization.
As a former state Attorney General, Mr. Verniero is a member of the Society of Attorneys General Emeriti and frequently attends meetings of the National Association of Attorneys General. At one national meeting, for example, he sat on a panel of current and former judges, offering insights on effective appellate advocacy before an audience of state solicitors and appellate chiefs. He similarly has lectured on effective appellate advocacy at meetings of various county bar associations in New Jersey.
Mr. Verniero began his career as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Robert L. Clifford, New Jersey Supreme Court. He also was an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the County College of Morris, where he taught business law.