N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 284


STATE OF NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1947
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
Tuesday, July 8, 1947 (Morning session)

inclined to the opinion that the provision of the 1944 proposal, which limited your right in the top court to capital cases, cases where constitutionality was an issue, cases where there was a dissent in the lower court, or cases which the lower court or the top court itself certified as being willing to entertain, is a proper restriction. Our present system of appeals makes only for delay.

On the question of appeal, I think that every final judgment should be reviewable. That is, every final judgment in a trial court should be reviewable and have at least one appeal before at least three judges. There should be an Appellate Division or a lower court of appeal beneath the top court. Personally, I would favor an Appellate Division, two or three, whatever may be necessary. I would think that the constitutional provision ought to be broad enough to permit the Court of Appeals, or the Chief Justice thereof, to set up the Appellate Division, and to designate these judges from the trial courts who would comprise the Appellate Division. And, as I said before, every final judgment from a trial court should be entitled to at least one appeal.

The appellate court, or the top court, should be vested with very broad rule-making powers in order to regulate appeals, particularly in appeals in matters other than those which arise as the result of a trial before a judge in the trial court. One of the things that I have particularly in mind is the matter of appeals on questions of extradition in criminal cases. As those of you on the Committee who are members of the bar well know, a defendant is indicted in a foreign state and arrested in New Jersey, an application is made by the Governor of New York State, we'll say, where the indictment is, to the Governor of New Jersey, to extradite the defendant. The Governor of New Jersey signs the extradition warrant, and then a proceeding is started in one court after another which can result in interminable delay. I have in mind a case right now where the Governor of New Jersey signed a warrant of extradition to send a man to Michigan, who was under indictment there, in June of 1944, and in April of 1947 the Court of Errors and Appeals of this State decided that he should go. In the meantime, 17 judges had passed upon that case, and not a single one of the 17 judges found any merit in the defendant's contention that he shouldn't go. So, the issue being limited very narrowly anyhow, nearly three years elapsed between the time that the Governor of New Jersey ordered the extradition until the State of Michigan was finally able to bring that man back to trial. I don't know what the situation was out in Michigan in the meantime, but I can very well believe that there wasn't anything left to try. That's usually the situation, in criminal cases.

I think the same broad powers should be given to the Court of Appeals in reference to the matter of reviewing indictments on


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