Appointed by Governor James McGreevey to the New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing in March 2004, Judge Barnett E. Hoffman was then elected to serve as chairman of the Commission in July 2004.
After graduating from Rutgers Law School and serving two years with the United States Army as Captain, Judge Hoffman worked part-time as an assistant prosecutor for Middlesex County's Prosecutors Office where he was a trial prosecutor. During his tenure at the Prosecutor's Office, Judge Hoffman tried in excess of thirty trials, including capital murder and wire-tap conspiracy cases. In 1973 Judge Hoffman developed his own private law firm until 1978, when he became First Assistant Prosecutor for Middlesex County. As First Assistant Prosecutor, Judge Hoffman was the top assistant to the chief county law enforcement officer and was responsible for the supervision of thirty assistant prosecutors and was legal advisor to the Major Crime Unit that was tasked with investigating homicides and other serious crimes.
Judge Hoffman was appointed by Governor Brendan Byrne to the Middlesex County Bench in December 1981, where he was assigned to the Superior Court, Chancery Division - Matrimonial. While on the bench, Judge Hoffman handled all matters relating to divorce, custody, visitation, alimony, support and equitable division. He was later reappointed to the Superior Court by Governor Thomas Kean in December 1987. In May 1983 Judge Hoffman was assigned to the Criminal Division of Superior Court and maintains this position today, where he oversaw all indictable criminal matters from arraignment to trial and sentence. During his term on criminal bench, Judge Hoffman tried over 320 jury trials including fifty first degree homicide cases, ten of which were capital murders, and over eighty sex crime trials. In September 1998, Chief Justice Deborah Poritz appointed Judge Hoffman as Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division, which is responsible for the handling and disposition of 3,000 indictments annually, where he was assigned with the administrative supervision of six Superior Court Judges and 94 criminal case management employees. The caseload consisted primarily of sex crimes, homicides, and vehicular homicides and assaults.
As a judge, Judge Hoffman founded the Middlesex County Adult Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center. This is the first and only judicially administered jail based drug rehabilitation program in the State of New Jersey. The program was established on October 1st, 2001 and has had many successful graduates. Furthermore, Judge Hoffman became the first judge to use PowerPoint to assist in the presentation of the judge's charge to the jury. Judge Hoffman has served on several New Jersey Supreme Court Committees including Judicial Education, Trial Judges Committee on Capital Causes, Committee on Sentencing Disparity, Criminal Practice Committee (while on the Bench), and has been a member of the Supreme Court of New Jersey District Ethics Committee from 2003 until the present. He has also had extensive teaching and lecturing experiences including a member of the faculty at National Judicial College (June 2004), visiting lecturer at Florida Judicial College (2000), moderator and lecturer at a New Jersey Judges Seminar on "Understanding Sexual Violence" (2000), lecturer at National Judicial College (1998), instructor for the Administrative Office of the Courts orientation for new judges on "The Criminal Jury Trial" (1992-2000), visiting lecturer at Vermont Judicial College (1995), instructor at New Jersey Judicial College in "Managing the Trial of Sex Crime Cases (1993, 1995, 1997, 1999); "Jury Charges" (1994); "Trial of Capital Causes" (1998-2000); "recent Developments in Criminal Law" (1985-1986); "Use of PowerPoint in Charging Juries" (2000), and as a Criminal Retreat Lecturer for judges assigned statewide to criminal division on various subjects including trial of death penalty cases, sex crimes, and management of complex litigation (1986-2000). Additionally, Judge Hoffman authored Survivors Need Not Be Victims: A Practical guide for Dealing with Police and the Criminal Justice System in Death Cases in addition to various published judicial opinions.
Presently, in addition to serving as the chairman of the Commission, Judge Hoffman is of counsel for Borrus, Godlin, Foley, Vinuolo, Hyman and Stahl where he concentrates on criminal consultation and arbitration services. He is also a member of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at Rutgers University.
In the community, Judge Hoffman is the President of the Friends of Middlesex County Adult Substance Abuse Program, the former President of Rutgers Alumni Association and Rutgers University Board of Trustees, a member of Jewish Social Services and the Highland Park Conservative Temple and Center. Recently, Judge Hoffman was honored with the Governor Thomas H. Kean Award for Public Service in November 2003.