N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 372

Wednesday, July 9, 1947 (Morning session)

there is no further question, I would like to ask you a question with respect to the remarks of our last witness. He recommended that the Constitution seek to provide some system which would centralize power at the magistrate's level. As I understand it, his plan would be to have a magistrate's court which would be composed of all the magistrates from the various counties, appointed by a central appointing power. Have you ever considered revision of the magistrate's set-up?

MR. GAULKIN: Well, that is a very, very broad field. To begin with, I do know this, that the law relating to the magistrates is statute law. The statutory law is sorely in need of overhauling and revision. I do think that all of the magistrate's courts should be governed by one or two types of legislation, perhaps one type to take care of the large municipalities, like Newark, Elizabeth, Camden, and another statute to take care of the small municipalities. As we have it now, we have different statutes relating to boroughs, cities of first class, townships, etc. Furthermore, I don't think that the Constitution should enter into the question of the magistrate's courts. We are a growing State, we have surburban and rural sections, and I think it should be left to the domain of trial and error, in the hands of the Legislature, and not frozen into the Constitution.

MR. SOMMER: What do you say to this thing? What do you think of the superior courts standing over these minor courts?

MR. GAULKIN: I think that that would be extremely helpful. Either that, or I have always had the idea that somewhere, perhaps in the State Government, in the executive, there should be a Department of Justice that would control some of the administrative features of all the courts, from top to bottom. And I do think that your Chief Justice should be the administrative head of the higher courts, in other words, the Court of Errors and Appeals, the intermediate appellate courts, and also your trial courts.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Do you favor intermediate appellate courts, or do you prefer a system of unified courts and one appeal directly to the Court of Appeals?

MR. GAULKIN: It seems to me that with New Jersey in its present size, I think one Court of Appeals should be sufficient, with the power in the Constitution to enable the Legislature to either create appellate divisions or an independent intermediate court. I don't think the Constitution itself should provide for an intermediate court.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: You think that with the present volume of business, one court could handle all appeals from the general courts as well as appeals from the administrative agencies?

MR. GAULKIN: I do, with this proviso: I think that law cases are taken to the Court of Errors and Appeals as a matter of right

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