John E. Mulhern

Died: Sun., Oct. 25, 2020


4:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Thu., Oct. 29, 2020
Location: Wood Funeral Home

Funeral Mass

11:00 AM Fri., Oct. 30, 2020
Location: St. Francis of Assisi Parish

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LITTLE EGG HARBOR Judge John E. Mulhern, 76, died peacefully on October 25, 2020 in his home while surrounded by his family and loved ones. From birth, John was always outnumbered by women. His mother and three sisters, Pat, Kathy, and Mary played an essential role in developing his charm, diplomacy, and intellectual agility.  No one could have known how well these skills would translate into a successful legal career that spanned three decades. His childhood was spent as both a devout Altar Boy and an impish Catholic School student. Wanderlust grabbed him early, and just as George Bailey did in "It's A Wonderful Life," John shook the dust of that crummy little town off his feet and saw the world. His first stop was in New Mexico for College, and then on to California to see what West Coast had to offer in the 1960s. Innumerable stories, but few records, exist about this time in John's life, and he wouldn't have had it any other way. 

 After pit stops in Mexico and Europe, John next headed to Chicago, where he started night school at the John Marshall College of Law. During one of his daytime odd jobs, he met Carol Minikel and his world turned upside down. Although almost a foot and a half shorter than him, Carol drove John to finish his law degree, helped him pass the Bar Exam, and together, they started a new life in New Jersey. During their marriage, John was once again outnumbered by women when they welcomed their daughters, Ellen and Anne, into the world. 

 By happenstance, John met Jim Devine in 1977, and after a beer and a coin flip, they decided to start a law firm together, replete with faulty typewriters, hippy beards, and a hunger for success. They quickly outgrew their small practice by impressing their colleagues and earned appointments as Prosecutors, and eventually as Judges. 

 John believed deeply in the justice system and the role he played in it. Every case was a person who deserved dignity, compassion, and fairness. Each case was personal to him, and John saved every single letter he ever received from defendants whose lives were made better from having met him. John dedicated countless hours to supporting students of all ages as they developed their own passion for the law. He coached countless mock trial teams and mentored every student he taught as a college professor. 

 Whether knowing someone for a single conversation or a lifetime, John was exceptional at making every person feel understood, loved, and valued. He could never have known how far-reaching his impact was. He had the deepest love for his family and was the keystone for countless cousins, nieces, nephews, and strangers who became family after they received one of his signature hugs. His door was always open, his table was always full, and he was a source of solace for anyone who had nowhere else to turn.

 Despite facing over a decade of heartache as he cared for his terminally ill wife, Carol, before she passed in 2009, he kept his heart open. After decades on the judicial bench rendering decision after decision, he made his most sound decision when he fell in love with, and married, Jayme Alfano Mulhern. 

 Jayme and John's wedding in 2011 quickly became the stuff of legend and perfectly reflected their celebration of the next chapter of their lives together. They counterbalanced their thriving social life by cuddling on the couch with their two rescue dogs, Quincy and Archie. In 2018, they traded in their mountain lifestyle in rural Sussex County for seaside living in Ocean County. Despite being the new kids on the block, Jayme and John quickly became beloved members of their new community. 

 John was a very tall man whose larger than life adventures meant he never fit in any particular box. He was a dome-builder, a modern-day cowboy, a vagabond, a scholar, a racecar driver, a tattooed shark diver, and he had no problem flying planes or jumping out of them. He was a trickster, prank-pulling wordsmith whose mastery of the english language left people rolling with laughter. He was a confidant, a champion, a shoulder, and a beacon. Most of all, he was a lover of butter and Häagen-Dazs.

 On the night of his passing, John was surrounded by his closest loved ones who let him know that he was loved beyond measure. He is survived by his wife and four-legged son, Jayme and Archie Mulhern, his daughters, Ellen Zjawin and Anne Mulhern, his son-in-law Richard Zjawin, and his grandsons, Ethan, James, and Kody Zjawin. He is also survived by his sisters and brothers-in-law, Patricia and Peter Lane, Kathleen Mulhern, and Mary and Bill Alberti, and his mother and grandmother-in-law, Jayme and Bet Innes, respectively. He is now reunited with his parents Harry and Dorothy Mulhern and his beloved first wife, Carol Minikel Mulhern. He leaves behind a wide wake of friends and loved ones, who he always hoped would carry on his love for the law, for serving others, and for living life to the fullest. Rest easy, Your Honor, you've taught us well and we've got it from here. 

 A memorial service will be held on Thursday, October 29, 2020 from 4-8 pm at the Wood Funeral Home, 134 East Main St., Tuckerton, NJ.  A full Catholic Mass will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, October 30, 2020 at the Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Brant Beach, NJ. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in John's Name to the Eleventh Hour Animal Rescue. Donations can be made online at or sent to Eleventh Hour Rescue, P.O. Box 218, Rockaway, NJ 07866. 

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Lucy DeLoreto
   Posted Tue October 27, 2020
Jayme, Ellen, Ann

My deepest condolences on John's passing. Although I only worked with Judge for a short period of time, I am grateful to have known him. So many fond memories of our Tuesday morning talks. He was loved all of you so much, he shared all his wonderful memories of your lives together. May God Bless His soul in Heaven, and may God give all of you renewed strength during this most difficult time.

Joyce Straway Bob and Connie Gordon
   Posted Wed October 28, 2020
Dear girls, we are so sorry for your loss we both worked for your Dad and knew your mother very well Oh the stories I could tell when he was on the bench always fair and you knew where you stood with your dad Mom was the receptionist for their law practice she also would babysit for you when Dad had night court prayers for your family he will always be in your heart

nancy g mulhern
   Posted Wed October 28, 2020
Dear Jammie, The Mulhern family

I was sad to hears John's passing,, Craig and i send our love .
I wish i had been able to get there , see him one more time
but so glad my son was able to get to spend time with all of you .

It has hit home deeply ,because that now leave my brother Raymond the last of the Mulhern men.
Tim i spoke for while after thinking of all the good times

Uncle Harry children were a big part of my child hood and some the best Times of my life .

The story I tell so many time about my cousin taught me how to play Ping-Pong ,i said to him one day, I never WIN ! he said that will make you practice and get better.
it was my biggest goal to beat him once lol

love to all my Mulhern family always so proud to be a Mulhern

Heather, Cody and Archie
   Posted Wed October 28, 2020
Jayme, Anne, and Ellen,

John was larger than life. He welcomed me as another daughter and I loved him so much. There was no other person who could give you such warm fuzzies. I’m sending you all my love, hugs, and wonderful memories of John.

Love all of you,


April Keesey
   Posted Wed October 28, 2020
My deepest condolences to his family. I will miss the Honorable Mulhern. I was a student of his at Sussex County Community College. I remember his classes very well. On occasion I still listen to the tapes from those classes and remember him fondly. May God bless all who mourn; he will be missed. I will remember him with smiles and laughter.

Dr David Shuch
   Posted Thu October 29, 2020
Dear Ellen and Anne,
It was with profound sadness that I learned of the passing of your father. Back in 1990, he was, for all intents and purposes, my landlord here in the Augusta Professional Center (now called the SCARC Administrative Center). My dental practice was new and John was one of my first patients along with his secretary Judy, your mom and of course the two of you! I still recall when Ellen saved her own money and got John's permission to have me bond one or two upper front tooth that had a funny shapes and how happy you were. Although John was put in a tight spot in terms of the finances of this building through no fault of his own and although it was stressful at times for both him and me, John and I always got along wonderfully. When my practice was young and I had no one to see, I would often go down to his office and we would have wonderful conversations. I recall on one of those occasions that Annie had the Newton Police Dept. send out an all points bulletin so she could get ahold of him! We just laughed. My heart went out to all of you when your mom got so sick, I knew how much of a toll it took on your dad and was thrilled to learn later that he had found new love. May your good memories of your dad comfort you in this difficult time.

Eileen Frisbie Kithcart
   Posted Fri November 06, 2020
It was with great sorrow to learn of the passing of John, who was undoubtedly one of the most down-to-earth, genuine and honest men I have ever had the pleasure to know. Full of wit and uncanny perceptiveness, John and his young family were across-the-street neighbors of my family on Ryerson Avenue, Newton. John and I also shared many years of municipal service together working for the Town of Newton. His presence as Magistrate on the bench was always well respected and rarely without imparting sincere words of advice.
My sincerest condolences to Jayme, Ellen and Anne. The world has lost a really special guy.


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