N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 190

Wednesday, July 2, 1947 (Morning session)

Then you would permit the Legislature to remove a judge notwithstanding the tenure for life - that is, for disability or some other cause?

MR. HARRIS: Of course, I suppose if there were misconduct.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: I am not talking about that. I am talking about the federal system where there is life tenure, and the legislature can't do anything about it. That is where they run into certain difficulties. I think we want to consider that.

MR. HARRIS: I assume if a man becomes physically disabled on a high court, or mentally incompetent, that he and his colleagues would have sense enough to advise his retirement.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: The trouble is, Dean, history is to the contrary.

MR. HARRIS: Well, I hate to see the age of 70 put on it. I think some of our good men do their best work after 70.

MR. SMITH: Don't you think - the proposal has been made by several - that there could be voluntary retirement at 70 and compulsory at 75?

MR. HARRIS: That is better.

MR. DIXON: Pull that down five years; make it optional at 65 and compulsory at 70, with the proposal that has already been made that the Supreme Court can draft those judges later on for additional work.

MR. HARRIS: Even after the age of retirement, they may be called on for special duty. That's in the Constitution and I like that. Of course, I think a safeguard should be put around the court in every possible way to induce the best men possible to take positions on it, and not have to leave it for a more lucrative practice because of salary.

MR. SMITH: What is your view on the trial period? Seven years, I think, was specified in the 1944 proposal. Is that too long or too short?

MR. HARRIS: No, I don't think that is too long. Of course, for Superior Court judges I would just as soon not see life tenure. I think the seven-year period is all right if this scheme, or something like it, were put in operation with the Chief Justice as manager of the court itself.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Administrative director.

MR. HARRIS: It follows through right down the line and keeps the men occupied at where they are best fitted to work and at their maximum efficiency. I think that's what is going to save the thing - streamlining, make it businesslike.

That's all I have to say.

MR. BROGAN: Thank you very much.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much, Dean. We appreciate your coming.

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