N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 202


STATE OF NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1947 COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
Wednesday, July 2, 1947 (Afternoon session)
"A Modern Court Structure for New Jersey


I The Court of Last Resort

ought to be adequate. This conclusion stems from the modern thought that one full review as a matter of right is all that a litigant is entitled to expect. So it follows that with an Appellate Division having plenary review jurisdiction, there ought to be and will be a definite limitation upon the number of cases that can reach the Court of Appeals. Five judges ought to be able to handle the thus curtailed volume.

If on the other hand an Appellate Division is devised which will have a more limited field of operation and if (as will be discussed hereinafter) direct appeals from the law and chancery divisions to the Court of Appeals are to be ordered, then a seven-member court would seem more advisable.

II Appellate Divisions

Here again practically no dissension exists among informed members of the bar about the necessity for Appellate Divisions. The real problem centers about the form that such Divisions shall take and the extent of their review jurisdiction. The question agitated is whether they should have intermediate appellate jurisdiction in all causes or whether certain causes, such as appeals from the law and chancery sections of the Supreme Court should be excluded.

The primary objective here is one appeal for a litigant as a matter of right. The secondary objective is to make certain that the Court of Appeals, because of restriction, by the Constitution and its own rules, on the causes which may be presented to it from the Appellate Divisions, does not become a court without a calendar. The safest and most practicable solution is that set forth generally in the Journal editorial of April 24, 1947. There it was proposed, first, that appeals from the law and chancery divisions of the Supreme Court go directly to the Court of Appeals. This would assure a constant source of review work for the court. Second, that all other matters of appeal or review (as by the prerogative writs) be assigned to appellate parts or divisions. Such jurisdiction would encompass District Court appeals, Workmen's Compensation appeals, review of the action of administrative agencies, review of the action of municipalities and like branches of government, review of police court convictions, regulation of the admission to the bar, etc. (As an aside in this connection an aim to be sought is the making of the prerogative writs issuable as of right or the refusal of the writ reviewable or the granting to the Legislature of power to create remedies which will operate concurrently with such writs)."

That, of course, is a very broad subject.

"No one need doubt that such Appellate Parts or Divisions would have enough to do. There are literally hundreds of Workmen's Compensation appeals annually, to say nothing of the other review burdens referred to above. The number of Parts and the composition thereof necessary to handle the task must be a matter for thorough study by the convention.

Appeals from these Parts should not be permitted as a matter of right except where the proceedings involve the constitutionality of statutes, the constitutional rights of individuals, the interpretation of statutes involving a large number of persons, questions of jurisdiction, a doubtful question of general law of wide application, or perhaps where there is a dissent in a Part or a certification of a question by a Part to the Court."

And on the issue of a unified court at trial level the Board proposes:

"The proposed revision of 1944 provided for a unified court system of state-wide jurisdiction at the trial level. The proposal grew out of a comprehensive study of our trial courts of original jurisdiction. The archaic character of these courts was responsible for the plan for a single court, then called the Superior Court (but preferably called the Supreme Court) divided into law and chancery divisions. The law section was to have


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