N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 269
MR. WURTS: If you start in the equity branch and you find you need a jury trial, you must get assigned to the trial term, as I recall it.
MR. WINNE: In New York?
MR. WURTS: Yes. Now, they may have modernized that in the last two or three years. I haven't been as active there recently as I was when I was a young man, but it used to be that if something came along in which either party was constitutionally entitled to a trial by jury, you would have to go to the other side of the court.
MR. DIXON: Don't you think that is excessively expensive, to get a case started in the courts under that practice?
MR. WURTS: Certainly I do, and that's what we have tried to avoid here. I mean, if you file your papers, issue your process and get your parties into court, the court ought to have power to deal with both parties, provided, Mr. Dixon, that you are properly in that court first. I don't think everybody ought to come running to the Court of Chancery with suits on promissory notes, nor do I think that everybody ought to run to the Supreme Court on injunctions. It depends on what your primary cause of action is. If you once get that, the other branches ought to be dealt with on the same side of the court.
Now, below the General Court level we put in, as Mr. Lasher has told you, County Courts as constitutional courts, and we provide that those should consist of one or more judges, the number of whom should be established by law, and whose qualifications should require that they be lawyers of blank years' standing. Each County Court would exercise within its own county all the jurisdiction heretofore exercised by all the county-level courts, including the Orphans' Court. Now that, of course, is something that there may be a controversy over, but it was our thought that parts would be authorized for these courts, and if necessary there could be a division of functions between the civil county courts and the criminal county courts and the probate courts. Those are the three main divisions.
MR. McGRATH: In very small counties you wouldn't suggest divisions, would you?
MR. WURTS: It wouldn't be necessary.
MR. McGRATH: You would have just one judge?
MR. WURTS: In the rural counties in New York, where they have county judges and county courts, the county judge acts as the surrogate, too. The surrogate is the judge of the Orphans' Court. He hears both matters; he hears both civil and criminal matters, but his jurisdiction is only counted as one. We thought that it would be practicable to do that, and our suggestion was that all appeals from the County Courts, whether on probate, civil or criminal mat-
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