N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 341

Wednesday, July 9, 1947 (Morning session)

sarily retaining that court itself as a separate functioning court. It seems to me that we should retain the traditions of equity, which were great in New Jersey, but that does not, by any means, mean that we should continue the court itself. I would like to make that comment and add another comment, which is entirely a layman's comment and a layman's viewpoint, but which I believe is held by the general public to a considerable degree.

If I were to be tried on either a criminal or civil cause, I think I would prefer that the trial be in the federal courts rather than in the state courts, because I have the feeling - and a feeling which, I believe, is shared by many of the public - that I would be more likely to get impartial justice out of the federal courts. I believe one reason for the general public favoring the federal courts in preference to the state courts is that the federal judges are removed from political pressure by the tenure of the office they hold. It is unfortunate, perhaps, but very human, that economics should color the opinions of the jurists to some degree, in some cases.

When a man holds a judicial appointment for a specific term, it makes it exceedingly difficult for him to become a completely disinterested party, rather than a member of a political party. He must keep one eye cocked always on the opportunities for reappointment, because his livelihood depends on his reappointment.

In the federal courts' structure a jurist is appointed for life, during good behavior, and I feel that proposal alone would be of considerable aid in strengthening the judiciary of the State of New Jersey in the public mind. I think it would strengthen the judiciary from a practical viewpoint. It would relieve the public of the impression that the members of our courts are not free from political influence.

Those are the comments I wanted to add to what may have been said before in support of the principles of the proposed revision of the New Jersey Constitution.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Would you apply the principles of life tenure to all judges - in the highest court as well as the lowest courts in the State?

MR. KERNEY: By all means.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: What have you to say with respect to the so-called compromise of a seven-year probationary period, and then life tenure?

MR. KERNEY: Well, that was a compromise. I prefer a life appointment myself. The Constitution Revision Commission of 1942 compromised within itself on a probationary period followed by life tenure. I see nothing particularly wrong with that, but I am inclined to favor the original life appointment, as we have it in the federal system.

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