N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 375

Wednesday, July 9, 1947 (Afternoon session)

both sides of the question. With great respect for those who differ with my views, I would suggest that the question should be solved by a consideration of what we may gain or what we may lose if the Court of Chancery is abandoned.

It makes no difference to the litigant whether he has his cause in an integrated court or a streamlined court. It makes a great deal of difference to the litigant whether his cause comes before a court who thoroughly understands the principles which should be applied to the decision of the cause and who understands how those principles should be applied.

There's one matter upon which I think we can all agree - that is is important that litigation should be heard and decided by the most competent tribunals that can be secured. The decisions of our Court of Chancery have for many years been very highly regarded, not only in New Jersey, but throughout this country. I think that the reason why they have been so highly regarded is because those decisions have been reached by judges who have devoted their whole time to the administration of equity jurisprudence rather than by judges who have been required to cover the whole field of law in the course of their judicial duties.

The committee of the State Bar Association, not unanimously, but by divided committee, advocated the establishment of a separate Court of Appeals and of a Supreme Court to which should be given all the jurisdiction now exercised by our present Supreme Court, by our Court of Chancery, and by our Prerogative Court. They stressed in their report the advantage of having equity questions decided by equity judges who specialize in equity, and to that end they advocated that the judges assigned to the equity division of this Supreme Court should be permanently assigned, during the whole period of their service as judges, and they suggested that if this were done, all of the advantages of a separate Court of Chancery would be secured.

Now, it seems to me that, very inconsistently with that view, they also advocated that when a question of equity might arise in a legal action, that question should not be decided by equity specialists, but should be decided by the law judge before whom the case was being heard. They present that suggestion in the rather attractive language that the judge should be able to do complete justice in every case. That's an attractive suggestion, but it isn't so attractive if you stop to analyze it. That is, what they would do is to make it obligatory upon a judge - a law judge - to decide equitable questions which might arise in the course of the lawsuit. Now, these equitable questions are just as important, so far as that particular litigation is concerned, and just as difficult of solution - sometimes much more so - than the questions which arise in ordinary equity actions.

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