N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 322

Tuesday, July 8, 1947 (Afternoon session)

ing upon the facts in the case, uniform. But the difficulty arises when a judge from Essex sentences a man in Essex County, and that man who, we will say, is charged with robbery of a grocery store, meets the man from Atlantic County who may have received a different sentence. Those two men meet in jail. The one sentenced from Essex and the one sentenced from Atlantic for the same crime have two different sentences, and the warden of the jail has a disciplinary problem to start out with, because the man who receives a heavier sentence will always feel that he has been dealt with unjustly. But we cannot have a uniformity of sentence except under some provision, statutorily or otherwise, under which all sentences clear through the one body, so that there will not be that discrepancy. That discrepancy arises in federal sentences, as you very well know.

MR. WINNE: Before a specific judge in special cases.

JUDGE SMITH: It arises amongst our own judges; we have five in this district. I may look at a certain type of offense differently from my colleagues - but you see, each judge brings to the bench, even though he desires to be impartial, a certain background that he can't escape. You may take a man in Essex County who is charged with stealing chickens, and in Essex County I don't think stealing chickens would be a very serious crime, but give me a county like Ocean, where they are raising chickens and the theft is from a chicken farmer, the offense immediately takes on a serious aspect, and as a result two judges, sitting in the same court practically, will impose two very different sentences. Now, a lack of uniformity arises from a situation like that. But confine it to the one county, and by one judge, and I will say there will be uniformity.

MR. WINNE: My belief is that the answer to that problem would be to have a local judge in each county to try criminal matters.

JUDGE SMITH: Oh, I agree with you there. I agree that it might be better, and because of that very situation it might be better to have a local judge in each county, because there is this other factor that a local judge brings - a knowledge not only of offenses, but of offenders, which is very important in sentencing criminals. I don't think we have reached a stage yet where we have even approached justice in the handling of criminal cases, because we are now learning for the first time, or at least we are now beginning to yield to the conviction, that some offenders are prompted by mental quirks, and that some such offenders are better subjects for mental institutions than they are for jail.

MR. WINNE: Now, I think we are all agreed that the United States District Court judges under the federal system handle a

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