JUDGE OCTAVIA MELÉNDEZ
Judge Meléndez is Special Counsel to the firm advising on all legal matters with emphasis on family & DCP&P/DYFS matters.
Judge Meléndez was raised in Puerto Rico where she received her undergraduate degree from the University of Puerto Rico in 1971. Upon completion of her Bachelor of Arts she obtained a Masters in Education from Temple University in 1973 and subsequently her Juris Doctor from Rutgers, State University in Camden, New Jersey in 1979.
Prior to becoming an attorney Judge Meléndez taught elementary school in the heart of the Hispanic community as a bilingual teacher. Upon her graduation from law school and after one year in private practice, Judge Meléndez was sworn in as a Deputy Attorney General representing the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), formerly the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). She held this position for 21 years.
Judge Meléndez was appointed to the bench in July, 2002, where she sat in the Family Division of the Superior Court in Camden County for 10 years. From 2014-2015 she was recalled by the Supreme Court of New Jersey where she sat in Atlantic County handling family matters.
During her Judicial tenure Judge Meléndez was named to the Supreme Court Committee on Minority Concerns where she served as Vice-Chair. She also chaired the Camden Minority Concerns Vicinage Advisory Committee, Sensitivity and Cultural Awareness Now (SCAN).
Judge Meléndez received awards in 1993 from the Department of Law and Public Safety and from DYFS for personal dedication and devoted services to the children of New Jersey. In 1995 she received the Governor’s Award for Exceptional Service in recognition of outstanding contributions to the State of New Jersey. In 1999 she received the Martin Luther King ” Champions for Social Justice and Equality ” Award from the Black Law Students Association at Rutgers Law School. In 2004 she received the “Defensores de la Justicia” Award from La Alianza’s Latino Law Students Association at Rutger’s Law School.
She has remained active with Rutger’s Law School, Girl Scouts of Southern and Central New Jersey, New Jersey State Bar Association, Camden County Bar Association and the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey.
Judge Octavia Melendez, a ’79 Rutgers Law–Camden alumna, who was the first person in her family to attend college and the first female Latina judge in Camden County.