N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 282

Tuesday, July 8, 1947 (Morning session)

tunity, which I frankly tried to avoid, but the Chairman insisted that I be here. I notice in the papers that you have been treated to the testimony of experts, and apparently you are going to be treated to some more of a like nature - in which classification I certainly am not and don't pretend to be. I have a couple of thoughts, however, with reference to the Judicial Section that I would like to discuss with the Committee, if I may, for a few minutes.

I assume that all of us are primarily interested in bringing about the creation of a judicial system that will be fundamentally efficient and expeditious. I know of nothing that's more important to the public in general in the administration of the judicial system, outside of its honesty, which we take for granted, of course, than expedition. The present situation, where it takes so long a time to get a case tried, in both the civil and the criminal courts, and an equally long time or longer to get it finally disposed of on appeal, is simply intolerable. And that is no reflection on the trial judges or the appellate judges, because all of them, in my judgment, are now burdened down with a multiplicity of duties, most of which they ought not to have, and because they are encumbered by a system which makes it impossible to do anything else.

My suggestion is, that we start off at the top with a new top court, getting rid of this ponderous 16-judge institution which we now have. I don't care what you call the court; I don't think it makes very much difference whether you call it a Supreme Court or whether you call it a Court of Appeals, or what you call it. In my judgment it should consist of not more than seven members, certainly not less than five members. If I were doing it myself I would prefer, I think, seven members. I would start it off, however, in fairness to the judges who are now there, with the present nine Justices of the Supreme Court, allowing it to work its way down by virtue of resignations, retirements and so forth, until they reach the number that you finally decide to have.

I would then have one court beneath that which would be divided in two divisions, the Equity Division and the Law Division. If you are going to have expedition you have to have administration, and you have to have someone with administrative authority. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court - if you call it that; you may or may not call it that; I will for the sake of argument, if you will permit me - the Chief Justice should be the chief judicial officer of the State and have supreme judicial authority. But I don't think he should be charged with the administrative responsibility of 50 or 60 or 70 or 100 judges, whatever number they may be. I don't think it is fair to attempt to build a great top court, as I am sure we would all like to see built, and to have presiding over it a great Chief Justice, in the sense that he is a great judge in that he writes great legal opinions, and at the same time charge him with

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