N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 266
to correct any impression in the minds of this Committee that there has been a merger of law and equity in the courts of New York. There has been a merger of the personnel of the courts trying those cases, but the Constitution of New York provides - I am quoting this as nearly as I can from memory - this was the Constitution adopted in 1925: "The existing Supreme Court is continued with general jurisdiction in law and in equity." It recognizes it as two separate systems. It is true that both systems are administered by the same judges, but there are two systems. There is no such thing in the State of New York as one attempted homogeneous system that combines law and equity, and that is recognized further on by another re-enactment in the Constitution of 1925 of something that was put in the Constitution about a hundred years ago. It said that the manner of taking testimony in equity cases shall be the same as those in law cases, and that is in the Constitution of the State of New York, and the recognition that they have two separate systems continues as late as 1925. So much for the explanation of that.
Our committee's effort has been directed, first, towards brevity; second, towards holding fast to that which was good; and third, towards attempting only to suggest remedies for those particular matters which, according to our information, have been complained of in the operation of our courts.
We did not go into this thing with the thought in mind that our existing court system should be scrapped from top to bottom, but we simply thought that it should be simplified; that the Judicial Article should, if possible, be shortened, and that the operation of the courts should be changed, so that these alleged defects which exist could be obviated.
Now, to start at the top, the highest court, which we will call the Supreme Court, will consist of a Chief Justice and six Associate Justices, and will exercise appellate jurisdiction in the last resort, in all causes, to the extent designated in the new Constitution, together with such original incidental jurisdiction as is conferred on it by the Constitution. It will be a separate, independent court. That is to obviate the criticism which has been made of the Court of Errors and Appeals for its size, and also to obviate the criticism that the members of our highest court had too many duties. The seven members of the highest court would be men who devoted their entire time to the administration of that court and to the hearing of the most important appeals. The appeals to the highest court of the State under our plan would be screened by the Appellate Division sitting in one or more parts of the General Court, which is the court of general original jurisdiction, and the only cases which would reach the highest court would be those
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