N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 122


STATE OF NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1947
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
Tuesday, July 1, 1947 (Morning session)

quadruple, quintuple, sextuple, and septuple litigations - the first class of these cases is that where the party bringing suit is found to have misjudged the character of his suit and to have brought it in a court which, our Constitution says, has no jurisdiction over that kind of proceedings. Mind you, our Constitution doesn't state it specifically, in so many words, but it is the necessary legal deduction. Thereupon, in that situation, the man's cause can't simply be transferred to the right court under the Transfer of Causes Act. I don't here allude to the fact that the Transfer of Causes Act itself has been rather strictly construed. The man must start his proceedings all over again, in another court.

I am going to follow, if I may, Mr. Chairman, this paper which gives these citations. ... Let's take a very simple case. A man files an appeal for an accounting against his partner. Actually, what he is asking is interest on a sum that has already been ascertained. The court of equity must, under our Constitution, say: "Stop right here; go over to the other court and start your proceedings all over again there, because while the court of equity has jurisdiction over accountings, the court of law has somewhat similar jurisdiction over some kinds of accounts. When you are suing for a definite sum, or interest on a definite sum, you must go to the law courts." Now, that is the simplest sort of a difficulty.

The cases that I have cited for you here, and the cases with which the records are replete, are cases a glance at which will show you that they are not the fault of, nor is the waste due to, incapable counsel. Take the case of Richeimer v Fischbein, 107 N. J. Eq. 493. The mistake there, which caused the citizens to go through court after court, was made by probably the outstanding Chancery jurist we have had in years, Vice-Chancellor Backes. Look at the case of Pridmore v Steneck, 122 N. J. Eq. 35. There is a case which deals with the relative jurisdictions of the law and equity courts in case of fraud. You will have to read that case over three or four times before you think you know the difference, and then you only think you know.

Now, the second class of cases of double litigation is that where one of the parties has a just claim or defense, of which the original court has no jurisdiction, even though that court does have jurisdiction of the original claim that is filed. Let's take a simple example of that. I sue you in ejectment - I am now talking for the benefit of some of the laymen I see on the Committee - to eject you from lands which I claim but which you occupy. You answer, setting up fraud of an equitable character. The law court cannot exercise jurisdiction to determine the validity of the equitable fraud defense. So the case must stop right there, and then proceedings must be instituted in a court of equity to ascertain the validity of this defense


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