N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 19


STATE OF NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1947
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
Tuesday, June 24, 1947 (Morning session)


Transition

sections, to handle law, equity and probate matters. That, of course, is the same proposal which Senator Hendrickson has made - that the Commission of which he was chairman made.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Was it your thought that these provisions be set forth in the Constitution?

MR. LE DUC: My report and the action taken by our affiliate associations does not go that far, Mr. Chairman. My own personal thought would be that they would merely be indicated in the Constitution. Nothing other than that, but I certainly would not want the Constitution to bind the court in the number of divisions to be made. I think it would be far better to leave it open, leaving it to the discretion of the Chief Justices to create their own sections.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: You mean, by rules?

MR. LE DUC: Yes. Now, I have prepared a small graph, showing the proposed court system.1 The chart appears on page 30. May I pass that graph out to your members, Mr. Chairman?

VICE-CHAIRMAN: We already have one, thank you.

MR. LE DUC: If you will look at that graph, I think you will be better able to follow me as I go along. It will help to illustrate our proposals for a more unified court system.

New Jersey has today an amazing congeries of courts of antique vintage and varying jurisdiction. Many of these courts exercise concurrent or overlapping jurisdiction. Each is more or less independent of the others, with no one directing head. There is no reason why these courts of original jurisdiction should not be consolidated into a single statewide court, the separate, distinctive functions of these courts, however, to be preserved by assigning judges experienced in different branches of the law to appropriate divisions and sections.

The most controversial feature of our proposal is the merger of the courts of law and equity. A strong sentiment in favor of preserving the New Jersey Court of Chancery in its present integrity has been evidenced by the Bar of this State - a natural outgrowth of its loyalty to a court that has made a distinguished name for itself. It is not perceived, however, how the integration of this court in the single court of statewide original jurisdiction will in any way diminish the value of the services of our Vice-Chancellors, whose special experience in equity will be utilized by their assignment to an equity division. Equity jurisprudence would continue unimpaired as it has in the federal courts and in all the state courts where equity and law are administered by a single court (which means all states except only New Jersey and Delaware, Mississippi and Arkansas), in which they remain together but are separate courts of equity and law, in the sense that there are separate judges


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