N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 203

jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters at law and the chancery section to have jurisdiction in equity and probate causes. The reasons for such a court are as pressing now as they were then.

In the Journal editorials of May 8th, 15th and 22nd the basic reasons for such a unified court mechanism were outlined and reiterated. The only phase of such a system which may be met with objection at the convention is the absorption of the Court of Chancery and its elimination as a separate and independent tribunal. But emotions and prejudices aside, there is no real reason for the perpetuation of its individuality. In a modern judicial system, where the objective is to provide for full, adequate and expeditious justice for all litigants, its jurisdictional idiosyncrasies and limitations should be ended. The historical accident which gave birth to the court should not now be made a blight on the path of progress."

Incidently, with respect to that controversial issue, another member of the Board is scheduled to testify at another time.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Mr. Greene is scheduled to appear tomorrow at 10:30.

MR. BRENNAN: There again we might save the Committee's time on that issue and the details that you may be interested in, by having the Board's viewpoint preferably reserved for him. (Continuing reading):

"In the editorial of May 15th, a series of deficiencies in the present jurisdiction of the court were alluded to. These deficiencies are not matters of argument, they are matters of established fact and unanswerable, except through the establishment of an equity branch of a unified court.

All probate matters are peculiarly related to the work of a chancery division. At present the Vice Ordinaries and the Orphans' Court Judges have much concurrent and some conflicting jurisdiction over such matters. In the suggested probate division there will be one tribunal of state-wide jurisdiction presided over by judges who will be or become specialists in that field and everyone will know where to go and how to obtain the desired relief.

On the law side of the unified court, civil and criminal causes would be entertained. The disposition of criminal causes presents no particular problem. No one seriously objects to a blending of Oyer and Terminer, Quarter Sessions, General Sessions and Special Sessions into one court. In dealing with common law actions the need for elimination of three courts in whose domain they are now cognizable is more patent. Now the Supreme Court, the Circuit or Common Pleas Court may entertain these actions. Where service of process can be made within the county any one of the three may be chosen as his forum by the litigant. This labyrinthine house of justice has forever been a mystery to the lay mind. Plainly, a unified court system in which these courts are consolidated into one division of a state-wide court of original jurisdiction sitting in each county is most desirable.

To sum up the sense of the series of editorials, the Journal earnestly recommends to the convention:

  • (1) A separate Court of Appeals consisting of five or seven judges with appeals from the law and chancery divisions of the Supreme Court going directly to it. No other appeal should be permitted as a matter of right, except where constitutional problems, important issues involving interpretation of statutes, doubtful questions of general law of wide application are involved, or where there is a dissent in the Appellate Division or a certification of a question by a Division.  
  • (2) The establishment of Appellate Parts or Divisions of the Supreme     

Previous Page in Book ********* Table of Contents *********** Next Page in Book