N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 161

Tuesday, July 1, 1947 (Afternoon session)

MR. WATSON: Well, how does the Chief Justice do it?

MR. BROGAN: I don't think he superintends anything of that kind.

MR. WATSON: I think it is done that way. Just the other day I was talking to somebody about it - I was talking to Judge Smith of the United States District Court. Now, there, under the supervision of the Chief Justice, District Court judges meet in conference and discuss the questions that are common to them, questions on the administration of the court and, I assume, I don't say so specifically, I assume the matter of sentencing, so there is some consistent policy. It needs some activating force from up above to convene such conferences and such discussions. How far it would be carried, I don't know. I think it would be a long step. I think this machinery should be provided. That is all I have to say.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Any questions?

MRS. GENE W. MILLER: You mentioned that you thought it was immaterial whether there would be an initial term for the appointment of a judge and then appointment for tenure, or not. It seems to me to be quite material. Will you give us your personal views about whether there should be a seven-year initial term?

MR. WATSON: Did I say immaterial? It was a poorly chosen word. It isn't immaterial at all. I favor tenure from the beginning.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Life tenure?

MR. WATSON: Lifetime. That principle has been hotly debated by bar associations all over, and the provision that life tenure become effective after one term, or five, six, seven years, whatever it might be. It's a compromise, of course. All these matters are compromise. I would regard it as an acceptable compromise. It might be the wise compromise.

MR. SMITH: In the 1944 revision there was, under this tenure, a provision that the justice would hold office so long as there was so-called good behavior. There was no provision for physical or mental disability. Do you think such a qualification is -

MR. WATSON: No reference to disability in there?


MR. WATSON: There should be. It is provided for in the United States courts by statute. The President may retire a judge who is disabled, for disability shorter than the 20 years - I think it is 20 years - continuous service. The President may retire a judge for disability and retire him on pension, or he may just retire him, subject to recall for special cases.

MR. SMITH: We have no such provision?

MR. WATSON: That's right.

MR. SMITH: It should be?

MR. WATSON: It should be. Well, if not constitutional, then

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