Joseph A. Hayden, Jr.’s legal career spans over five decades. Most recently, Joe was awarded the 2020 Daniel J. O'Hern Award by the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law. Click here to view the video of Joe’s remarks accepting this award. To learn more about Joe Hayden's background and experience in his own words, click here to listen to "50-year Career as a Criminal Law Attorney" on The Bold Sidebar Podcast.
Joe began his legal career as a law clerk to the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and was then appointed deputy attorney general in the Organized Crime and Special Prosecution Section of the Division of Criminal Justice. As deputy attorney general, Joe tried the first wiretap case brought by the state of New Jersey. An esteemed leader of the criminal defense bar, Joe was the founder and first president of the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey (ACDLNJ), in 1985.
Joe has received accolades and honors for his excellence in trial work. He received the Lawrence A. Whipple Award for Professional Excellence from the ACDLNJ, and, in 2011, received the Rutgers University School of Law-Newark’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 2004, Joe was named Professional Lawyer of the Year in the area of Criminal Law by the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law. He is also the recipient of the Trial Bar Award for Professional Excellence from the Trial Attorneys of New Jersey, an organization of civil litigators. In 2014, Joe received the coveted Justice William J. Brennan Award from the Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey, in recognition of his contributions to the profession.
Although criminal defense is a significant part of Joe’s practice, he has also been substantially involved in complex civil litigation in state and federal courts, serving as either trial counsel or local counsel. In Joe's view, a trial is a trial – whether it involves a civil or criminal matter. While he relishes his work on complex, high-profile trials, Joe has said that some of his most significant victories were those in which a client was being investigated for wrongdoing but, thanks to his representation, was never charged or civil litigation was never brought.
Joe frequently tries cases that attract national and regional media coverage. He tried the first case in New Jersey with live television coverage by a major network and has tried four other cases with live TV cameras in the courtroom. He has been involved in such high-profile cases as the trial of a former professional basketball star and successfully represented a former Bergen County Democratic Chairman in a federal prosecution. In addition, Joe and the firm were appointed special counsel to the General Assembly in connection with the Legislative Select Oversight Committee, which conducted an extensive investigation of the hiring practices of the transition and office of Governor Philip Murphy arising out of allegations of sexual assault during the campaign.
A lecturer to the bench and bar on the topic of advocacy and trial techniques in high-profile cases, Joe is often asked to provide analysis of legal issues in print, online and broadcast media nationwide. He serves as a trustee for the New Jersey Reentry Services Commission, which provides support services for incarcerated persons, and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Integrity House, a prominent New Jersey addiction and mental health treatment facility based in Newark, New Jersey. Joe was profiled on PolitickerNJ.com for his involvement from the 1960s to the present in the civil rights movement and the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965.
Joe enjoys movies and theater. He has been active in athletics all his life as a football player in high school and in his first year at Boston College, and regularly played in football and basketball leagues for many years. He has run more than 10 marathons and works out religiously for one hour a day.
From Chambers USA 2020 Reports:
"Joseph Hayden is a celebrated criminal defense attorney, who acts for clients across the full gamut of white-collar criminal proceedings. Sources consider him to be a 'great legal mind,' admiring the way 'he immerses himself into a case so he knows it like the back of his hand, leaving no stone unturned.'"
- Represented former professional basketball player in connection with an unintentional shooting at his house.
- Represented a mayor who pleaded guilty to bribery in connection with his duties as mayor. At sentencing the defense persuaded the Federal Court Sentencing Judge to grant the mayor a downward variance from a maximum 57 months to a sentence of 27 months. Advocating the otherwise unblemished background of the mayor and the extensive mitigating factorings involving his charitable endeavors, the lesser sentence was imposed.
- Successfully represented a former Bergen County Democratic Chairman in a federal prosecution.
- Successfully represented on appeal a prominent doctor who had been convicted of two criminal charges involving unlawful sexual contact with a patient. Although this firm did not serve as trial counsel, it was established before the Appellate Division that the doctor in question did not receive a fair trial and the conviction was reversed
- Obtained not guilty verdicts on all charges in a vehicular homicide case arising out of a fatal accident in the Lincoln Tunnel in which the evidence demonstrated that the client’s car was traveling at 91 mph at the moment of the crash. The jury accepted the client’s defense that he suffered a serious medical episode inside the tunnel that rendered him unconscious in the moments leading up to the accident.
- Represented the New Jersey General Assembly in a high-profile investigation by a joint legislative committee into the State’s policies and procedures regarding the screening of prospective employees and the handling of claims of sexual assault, abuse, or harassment. Co-authored 119-page committee report that detailed the committee’s factual findings and included nine recommended changes to law and policy.
- Obtained a favorable result for two prominent doctors from New Jersey who were indicted by the Attorney General’s Office of New Jersey for healthcare fraud, committing bribery, and acting as a runner for medical providers. In the initial round of pre-trial motions, the defense obtained a dismissal of healthcare fraud and acting as a runner charges. Ultimately, the defense persuaded the office of Attorney General to permit the doctor involved to be accepted into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program which resulted in the ultimate dismissal of the commercial bribery charge – without any admission of guilt or culpability by the doctor involved. At all times, each doctor steadfastly maintained his innocence.
- Serving as local counsel to a publicly traded company in a federal antitrust and trade-secrets dispute in the life-sciences data industry concerning hundreds of millions of dollars in alleged damages.
Honors & Recognitions
- Recipient of Daniel J. O'Hern Award, 2020
- Best Lawyers, Criminal Defense: White-Collar, 2018-2022
- Chambers USA, Business, Litigation, White-Collar Crime, Government Investigations, 2017-2020
- Chambers USA, “Leaders in Their Field”
- InsiderNJ, “Insider 100 Policymakers” List, 2021 & 2018
- InsiderNJ, “Insider 100 Power” List, 2018
- InsiderNJ, New Jersey Irish American Leaders, 2018
- New Jersey Super Lawyers, 2019-2021
- New Jersey Super Lawyers, Top Ten Attorneys in New Jersey, 2008
- New Jersey Super Lawyers, Top 100 Attorneys in New Jersey, 2018
- New York Magazine, Newark Area Lawyer of the Year, White-Collar Practice, 2011
The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thomson Reuters. A description of the selection methodology can be found at http://www.superlawyers.com/about/selection_process.html.
The Best Lawyers list is issued by Woodward/White, Inc. A description of the selection methodology can be found at https://www.bestlawyers.com/About/MethodologyBasic.aspx.
The Chambers USA ranking list is published by Chambers & Partners. A description of the selection methodology can be found at https://chambers.com/about-us/methodology.
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Community & Professional
- Special Counsel in connection with the Legislative Select Oversight Committee (LSOC), New Jersey General Assembly
- Board Member, Integrity House
- New Jersey State Bar Association
- Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey (Founder and Past President)
- Trial Attorneys of New Jersey
- American College of Trial Lawyers
- International Academy of Trial Lawyers
- New Jersey
- New York
- U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
B.A., Boston College, 1966
J.D., Rutgers University School of Law, 1969, magna cum laude