N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 24

Tuesday, June 24, 1947 (Morning session)


myself. However, I do feel that your Committee should study that matter.

MR. DIXON: Do you feel that there should be some provision to that effect in the Constitution?

VICE-CHAIRMAN: When we come to the question of tenure, that will be one of the points to be considered, if you want to talk about life tenure. I anticipated other matters for discussion today - whether you want to compel judges to retire at a certain age, in accordance with the procedure in other states. Take the New York system, which compels a judge to retire at age 70. The possibility is that these cases of incapacity will not arise frequently.

MR. McGRATH: Under our Constitution the Legislature has the full right to take care of that.

MR. PETERSON: You heard the question I put to Colonel Hendrickson. Now, do you feel it would be comparable to the United States District Court judges? You know, under the federal system they do not have the courts you do under the state system.

MR. LE DUC: You would not have the same provisions, because under the federal system a single judge exercises comprehensive jurisdiction, but under this scheme there would be a marked difference, in that the Chief Justice - presumably the Chief Justice - would make the assignment to the several divisions, in accordance with the special experience and background of the judge assigned.

MR. SMITH: Would that be an improvement over the United States District Court set-up?

MR. LE DUC: I think so, although the two systems are hardly comparable. You have in the State a large judiciary, which is the court of original jurisdiction. In the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey you have five judges, and this does not lend itself to a separation of their particular ability and experience. It is almost mandatory that your federal judge exercise all jurisdiction. He can't separate himself very well. Many of the districts have only one judge, so that it is impossible to make division, whereas it would be possible to make division in a large state court.

MR. SMITH: That is what I had in mind. For instance, in the morning the judge has a case involving collision, or theft, or any of the other things that you are likely to run into in the gamut of the law. He has everything before him. Then, in the afternoon he might have a case involving a violation of the income tax law, or something else.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: That is true of our appellate court judges.

MR. PETERSON: But the appellate court judges have had the advantage of reading the briefs of the learned advocates on both sides. They do not have to start from scratch.

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