N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 301

Tuesday, July 8, 1947 (Morning session)

think that the same thing is true with respect to the Vice-Chancellors. We think their opinions are much better than they would be if they were practicing in all courts.

Most all of us, at one time or another, have had cases before the Chancery Court, and we don't always get decisions favorable to us. But we think the present system gives us the best and fairest method that could be devised of passing on questions that it is necessary for us to go into the courts for.

As to the matter of appointment of the Vice-Chancellors, we feel that is a matter that should be given very serious consideration by the members of this Committee.

We think the Court of Errors and Appeals should be set up consisting of from five to seven men who are no part of either the equity or law branches of the courts, but who would act independently on appeals. And, of course, the members of that court should be selected from men who have had experience as Vice-Chancellors and Justices of the Supreme Court.

I don't know that I can make any statements that would supplement what I have said, but I would be very glad to have you ask any questions. Mr. Lester G. McDowell, Vice-President of the Fidelity Union Trust Company of Newark, and a past president of our Association, is also here and would be glad to make any statements that you might care to have him make. If you wish to ask me any questions as a layman and a banker, I would be very glad to answer them.

MR. DIXON: You spoke of keeping the Chancery Court intact as it is. Now, wouldn't you get exactly the same situation if we have this court set up with divisions, as discussed by the Attorney-General, an Equity Division and a Law Division, with cases that are predominantly equity going into equity and cases that are predominantly law going into law, and thus arrange to avoid the questions of jurisdiction which result in a case being passed back and forth from one branch to the other? Wouldn't you prefer that and still have your experts?

MR. SUTTON: Yes, we would prefer that, and retain the equity court as a completely separate unit of the law, rather than have a Vice-Chancellor sit on law matters as well as equity matters. I can see no objection to that. But as to the delay, it appears to me that if the equity court is overburdened with work, the changes that you might make - if you assign Chancery cases to your Equity Division - you will still have those delays unless you have sufficient Vice-Chancellors or judges in that particular branch to pass on them.

MR. BROGAN: Your main point is that the Court of Chancery should be preserved as a separate branch in our system of jurisprudence?

MR. SUTTON: Yes, it is.

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