Peter Verniero was born in Montclair, New Jersey. He grew up in Morris County and graduated from Montville High School, where he was editor-in-chief of the school paper, Senior Class President and voted most likely to succeed. He earned a B.A. in Political Science with highest honors from Drew University in 1981 and a J.D. with honors from Duke University School of Law in 1984.
Following law school, Verniero served as a law clerk to New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Robert L. Clifford. He then became an attorney in private practice. While in private practice, he got to know the Whitman family while doing legal work for them. Verniero was asked by Christine Todd Whitman to work on her gubernatorial campaign, so he took a leave of absence to work on the campaign, where he worked on compliance and legal issues.
Once Whitman was elected Governor of the State of New Jersey, she asked Verniero to serve as her Chief Counsel. He served as Chief Counsel to Governor Whitman from January 1994 through February 1995, and then as Chief of Staff to the Governor, the position he held until he was sworn in as the 51st Attorney General of New Jersey on July 10, 1996. After serving as Attorney General (1996-1999), Verniero served as the then youngest justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court in modern history. He is the only person in the state’s history to have served in those four senior positions within the executive and judicial branches.
Verniero joined Sills Cummis in September 2004, where he serves as Chair of the Firm’s Appellate and Corporate Internal Investigations Practices.
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.
He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including, in 2016, the Medal of Honor, the highest award conferred by the New Jersey Bar Foundation.
An oral history discussing Verniero’s service in the executive and judicial branches as well as other biographical and professional information is posted on the website of the New Jersey Judiciary as part of the Supreme Court’s virtual museum and on the website of the Center on the American Governor, which is part of the Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics.
Hallmarks are his care and thoughtfulness in the written and spoken word and his respect for the Rule of Law.