- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Robert Clifford, a long-serving New Jersey Supreme Court justice who was known for crafting elegantly written legal opinions, has died. He was 89.

The state administrative office of the courts confirmed Monday that Clifford died on Saturday. Additional details on his death were not disclosed.

Clifford spent more than two decades on the state’s top court, serving from 1973 to 1994. Before that, he headed the state’s Banking and Insurance department and the former Institutions and Agencies department under Gov. William Cahill.

In a statement issued Monday, the state Supreme Court said Clifford’s colleagues knew him “as a man of elegance and dignity.” They said his love of language was “legendary in court lore” and evidenced in the opinions he wrote.

Clifford joined the Morristown firm of McElroy, Deutsch and Mulvaney after he stepped down from the Supreme Court, and worked there until his retirement in 2011. In an email Monday to employees at the firm, managing partner Edward Deutsch praised Clifford’s “indelible impact on the development of the law both in New Jersey and around the nation.”

“To the young people in the firm, he was one of the kindest, most thoughtful people,” Deutsch told The Associated Press Monday. “He knew everybody’s name, every secretary, everybody in the mailroom. He was the most unassuming person who had every right to be assuming.”

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