N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 308


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

MR. WINNE: But if you give them tenure after appointment, you have some step toward the thing you think is ideal.

JUDGE SMITH: Well, let's see - the federal system has operated under life tenure since its very beginning, practically, and yet in the history of the federal system I think there have been less than five judges impeached.

MR. WINNE: No, but they try them for crimes.

JUDGE SMITH: That has only happened in two cases.

MR. WINNE: It is pretty tough when you have to try a judge for a crime -

JUDGE SMITH: That has happened in two cases.

MR. WINNE: - and send him to jail. Well, right around here -

JUDGE SMITH: That's unfortunate. I sat in one trial and I know there should be some other way.

MR. WINNE: There was Mann, Davis and a fellow in Pennsylvania since I've been around. You say two and I say there have been three.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Judge, do you see any basis for distinguishing tenure between the top court and the lower courts?

JUDGE SMITH: Yes.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: In other words, you might recommend life tenure for a top court, and Mr. Winne's proposal for the lower courts.

JUDGE SMITH: For this reason. There is no better way to insure the members of the bench looking to a judicial career. The best judges are - that's proved also in our federal system - our best judges are those men who came to the bench with the thought that it would be their career.

I understand that Learned Hand will be here on Thursday. He is an outstanding example of a man who came into the federal system as a District Court judge many years ago. He made the judiciary his career. He has done a splendid job at it, yet he is a man who could have at any stage of his career in the private practice of law demanded probably not less than $50,000 a year, and by modern standards probably a man whose salary would have been in excess of $100,000 a year. There are large organizations in the immediate community who pay general counsel, of lesser ability than Learned Hand, salaries far in excess of that which he receives as a Circuit Court judge. The only thing that must appeal to a man like Learned Hand is the fact that he devotes his life to the judicial career.

Now, when you say top level, that's the only answer to it.

The other aspect of it is, the judge who will take the position for a period of five years, especially if he's young enough, will take the position for a short period of time with full knowledge that after


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