Cohen is an attorney and a partner in the
Essex County law firm of Gill and Cohen, P.C.,
in Montclair. He previously served a judicial clerkship with the
Honorable Harry Hazelwood, Jr., Superior Court of New Jersey. From 1978
through 1981, he served as trial attorney for the State of New
Jersey’s Office of Public Defender.
Mr. Cohen is a graduate of Howard University Law School in Washington D.C.
While in law school he was chosen for employment by a Presidential
Commission and presented cases at the White House and Camp
Life: Mr. Cohen
Roselle and is a lifelong resident of Union County. He is the son of Ruth and the late Leonard Cohen of
Mr. Cohen was first elected to the General Assembly in 1990 to represent
the 21st Legislative District. In 1993, he was elected to
the 20th Legislative District and became the first member of the
Legislature to ever be elected to represent two separate districts. He is now serving in his eighth term. He has served as the Union County Democratic
Chairman and as a Union County Freeholder.
During his first term representing the 20th district, Mr. Cohen
served as the Democratic Minority Whip. He has served on the Advisory
Commission on Hispanic Affairs, the Holocaust Victims’ Memorial
Commission and the New Jersey Israel Commission.
In 1995 his colleagues appointed him to serve as
the Deputy Minority Leader; he served through 2001 and then went on to
serve as Deputy Majority Leader through 2005.
Mr. Cohen serves as Assembly Deputy Speaker and is chairman of
the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. He is also
a member of the Labor Committee and Joint Committee on Legislative
and Organizations: Mr.
Cohen serves on the board of trustees of the New Jersey
Vietnam Veterans' Memorial.
He has been honored by the state business and labor community as
“Legislator of the Year” in 1991. In 1995, a leading bipartisan
women’s organization presented him with the “Good Guy of the
Year” Award, and in 1996, Mr. Cohen received the Ann Klein
Advocate Award for his leadership in championing legislative policy that
create opportunities for and protect the rights of people with
disabilities and senior citizens. He has also been honored by the U.S.
Department of Justice, Humanitarian of the Year by the New Jersey
Association of Retarded Citizens, and by the Union County Mental Health
Since his first term in the Assembly, Mr. Cohen has had
more than 170 legislative
initiatives signed into law by five governors. These include laws that
provide health insurance coverage for mammography testing, health
insurance benefits for bone marrow transplants for cancer treatment,
trigger-lock requirements on firearms, anti-money-laundering
laws, restriction of strip searches by law enforcement and school
officials, expansion of eligibility for the Pharmaceutical Assistance to
the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) program, the extension of
“bias crimes” to include crimes intended to intimidate based upon
handicap or gender, veterans property-tax deduction increases, law banning racial
profiling and consumer-fraud
protection for senior citizens.
Mr. Cohen supports stem-cell research. He sponsored a law
authorizing all types of stem-cell research and has made
efforts to educate about stem-cell research's potential to discover
potential cures for diseases and ailments.