N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 144


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

not heard any good reason. It is said that they duplicate to some extent. Suppose that happens to be correct? If the people like them, why should you take away from them something that they are accustomed to and that works efficiently? If it is desirable to cut down the jurisdiction of the damage amounts - of the amount that may be sued for - to $3,000 or $5,000, to bring it into line with the New York county courts, I don't see any objection to that. And if you want to combine all of these various county courts into one court, I don't see any objection to that, although personally I do love the old name, Common Pleas. That goes back to the roots. But if you like some other name, it's all the same. If you want to combine the courts, you may, but I think we ought not to deprive the people of something they like.

MR. McGRATH: A number of people have suggested that the county courts should be a general court, and I make the observation, and I think you will agree with me, that the word "common" is the old English word for "general." So that when you say "common pleas" you are merely saying "general pleas."

CHIEF JUSTICE CASE: It was a descriptive name, as contrasted with the pleas to the Crown, and came to give title to the court.

MR. McGRATH: It was a general plea.

CHIEF JUSTICE CASE: Yes.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: I don't take it that you are suggesting that these lower courts be set forth specifically in the Constitution?

CHIEF JUSTICE CASE: No, I would leave them as they now are, subject to legislative control. It isn't necessary to do anything with these courts. If the Legislature wanted to wipe out all the inferior courts, it could.

MR. McGRATH: I would like to note here that the Common Pleas Court isn't an inferior court.

CHIEF JUSTICE CASE: Yes.

MR. McGRATH: Would you say that there is any merit in the suggestion that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court should be Chief Justice of the county courts and have overseeing power over them to some extent?

CHIEF JUSTICE CASE: I hadn't thought about that, but I want to comment on something that was said a while ago. If you provide for an intermediate court to screen appeals to the highest court, there should, of course, be a head to that court - call him Chief Justice, or what you wish. And, it seems to me, and I think it seems to the court, that it is more logical to have him the directing head over the trial judges than to have the presiding judge of the Court of Errors and Appeals so act. Keep this body of last appeal separate and apart.


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