N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 336


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

Bar Association, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and perhaps three laymen appointed by the Governor, or some such combination - that is not a fixed combination - who would select the list of names, maybe three, from which the Governor would be obligated to pick one name, or, as has been suggested, if he didn't find on that list any name he wanted and he wanted to select some other, he had to give a very full statement as to why he rejected the three and selected another. Do you think a plan like that might have merit in it?

MR. WINNE: Are there any suckers in the room?

(Laughter)

MR. ORMSBY: I don't think so. I think the plan would be somewhat complicated. I still maintain that, as I gather it, all authority comes from God, the authority is then vested in the people, and the people establish the sovereignty and the sovereignty establishes the government, and so on. The people should, therefore, select the judges. It is democratic. I think the people, by far and large, are one fine grand jury, and they should select the judges. You men who have sat on the bench, you sometimes, in some cases, felt that some jury verdicts might not have been the best, yet most of the time you have been impressed with the just verdicts of our juries. I think that on the appointment or selection of judges by the people, you get them more interested in their judicial system by giving them a personal selection by vote. If a judge is on the bench, and his term expires, he shouldn't be afraid to stand up there and present his record. That's my opinion.

MR. SOMMER: What you want to see is a bi-partisan judiciary?

MR. ORMSBY: That's right.

MR. SOMMER: What assurance have we that in an election we will produce a bi-partisan judiciary?

MR. ORMSBY: I think, Dean, if you recall, I said one word, "bona fide" bi-partisan. I put that word "bona fide" in there for a reason. I hoped that it would be bona fide. I think most of us are looking at the damaging results. We have got to give this proposition of the election of judges a fair trial.

I may also point out that the cost to the litigant should be reduced, for the reason that they should be encouraged to pursue justice. Maybe we are at fault that lawyers to the man are interested in the law and not in bringing to the attention of the layman some of the things they are entitled to. You have the same thing in many matters. We must consider the inertia of the people. You have got to give them something to interest themselves in, and I don't see anything finer for the judiciary than having the judges present themselves for election every ten years. I make it ten years because I think that a judge should have a term of at least ten


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