N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 297


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

MR. VAN RIPER: No, for two reasons. I think that the man who is at the head of the Equity Division and the man who is at the head of the Law Division have enough to do with administrative matters right there in their own divisions, without sitting on the top court. For the same reason, I think that the Chief Justice of the top court ought to be relieved of those administrative duties.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: The reason for the question was that Chief Justice Case suggested that we take care of ten in the top court until it was reduced to seven. You suggest that we take care of nine until it is reduced to seven.

MR. SMITH: I have a supplementary thought. If the Chancellor were on the top court, it seems to me that something should be done to avoid his disqualifying himself, as is true today in all equity cases.

MR. VAN RIPER: I was just going to say, Mr. Smith, that's one of the reasons that I made you the answer that I just gave you. A Chancellor, no matter how able he is, is only able to be helpful in about half the cases, or whatever the proportion may be. The same think would be true of the judge who is the administrative head of the Law Division, I suppose, to a certain extent. If you are going to have a top court of seven men, let's have seven who will all function as judges of that court all the time, and not be disqualified for any other reason.

MR. BROGAN: In other words, the top court judge, the Chief Justice, makes the rules; the chiefs of the Law Division and of the Equity Division administer the rules.

MR. VAN RIPER: That's right. That would be my thought.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Do you prefer that in contrast to a separate administrative director, such as we have in the federal system?

MR. VAN RIPER: I do for the reason, as I said earlier in my testimony, Mr. Chairman, that I don't think that an administrative director - I may be wrong about this, I haven't had any actual personal experience - but I don't think that an administrative director, or any other title, I don't care what you call it, other than a judge, would be as effective in administering the court as a judge would be. In other words, I know that as a Common Pleas Judge I looked up to the Chief Justice as Chief Justice. Now, it might have been the same personality and I might have been just as fond of him personally as I was before he was called administrative director or something, but I know that I wouldn't have taken orders from him as easily.

MR. PETERSON: Wouldn't the public or the litigants have the benefit of the Chancellor being a member of the top court, whatever it is called, if the judges in equity, now called Vice-Chancellors, appointed by him, wrote their own decrees?

MR. VAN RIPER: I do suppose we could change that situation


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