N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 193

Wednesday, July 2, 1947 (Morning session)

MR. HARRIS: - - the right to find out whether a man is in office or not. And if you integrate your courts from the beginning, you have that by right of appeal, so that nine-tenths of your practice might be gone. I don't know. It is the feeling of some that they should be abolished and only the right of appeal should exist. I am colored in my thinking by my specializing in municipal law, and I know certiorari has done great service to municipalities, and sometimes disservice.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much, Dean Harris.

Judge Smith was to be here at two o'clock, but he is here now and we will be glad to hear him at this time.

JUDGE WILLIAM A. SMITH: The first thing that I would like to say is that Judge Ackerson was invited to speak, but he has left for his vacation and he asked me to tell you he was sorry he couldn't be here.

On the question of what ought to be done, I think it should be approached with the idea of simplification, and in addition to that, as little change as possible from the present system. I mean, we have the county courts and we have the state courts, and have judges sitting in both courts; and we have personnel, some paid by the State and some paid by the county. There is a lot of detail, I know, that is minor, but we ought to use the present courts insofar as we can and get jurisdiction under them, and also use the present personnel to manage them.

Now, the first thing, of course, is the appellate court. I don't believe there is much dispute about what that court should be. It should be an independent Court of Appeals with probably seven members as finally constituted, and they should have no other duties. Then, it seems to me, there should be a Supreme Court, and you should have an Appellate Division which should take the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court en banc - that is, the jurisdiction the Supreme Court exercises through three parts when it sits in Trenton, the jurisdiction they exercise in passing on prerogative writs. But all that jurisdiction should all be centered in the appellate division and, as I say, should take over the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court when it sits together, which is en banc.

MR. BROGAN: When it sits as an appellate body?

JUDGE SMITH: When it sits in Trenton, not only as an appellate body, but when it has original jurisdiction.

MR. BROGAN: In other words you think that a court such as the present Supreme Court should be constituted as an Appellate Division?

JUDGE SMITH: No, no, not solely as an Appellate Division. There should be a Supreme Court with an Appellate Division which would take over all the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court

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