N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 376


STATE OF NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1947
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
Wednesday, July 9, 1947 (Afternoon session)

I might illustrate. We'll assume, now, that an action is brought on the law side of the court to recover damages. The defendant pleads the statute of limitations. The plaintiff conceives that the defendant, by concealing the cause of action or by some other inequitable conduct, has estopped himself from taking advantage of the statute of limitations. Under our present system, the plaintiff would file a bill in Chancery to restrain the pleading of the statute of limitations, and the Court of Chancery would decide the issues raised by such bill. Now, that question often does - I won't say often, because this doesn't often happen - but when it does happen it is important and involves difficult questions of law and fact, just as difficult questions of equity jurisprudence as would be involved in a regular equity cause, and it is very probable that the decision of that question might govern the decision of the whole case. Under the proposed plan of the State Bar Association that question would be decided by the law judge who devotes his whole time to an entirely different branch of learning. Now, it is my thought that it is important to have these questions which arise in the course of a legal procedure, if they are equitable questions, decided by a judge who is an expert in equity - just as important to have that done as it would be to have a regular equity case decided by an equity specialist - that is before a judge who has devoted his whole time and attention, after being appointed to the equity court, to the consideration of equity questions.

I'd like to illustrate what I have in mind by a very homely illustration. We'll assume that a member of this Committee is ill. He is attended by a very competent family physician, a man who has taken a course in medicine and surgery and gone through all the educational experience that any other doctor has. But this family physician advises an operation. Now, certainly this hypothetical member of the Committee, if advised that he must have an operation, wouldn't consider it a great burden or inconvenience to have his operation performed by a surgeon who had specialized in surgery. He might have every confidence in the world in his family physician, but if the family physician had not done any surgical work, he wouldn't care what his preliminary education was, he would want to have his operation performed by a surgeon.

Now, that analogy is not so far from the situation presented with respect to equity questions arising in a lawsuit. There the litigant, particularly if he is on the right side of the case, naturally should have the right to have these equity questions decided by a judge who is thoroughly familiar with the principles and practice of equity.

There are many illustrations. Take our industries, our banks - they have special vice-presidents or officers to do particular branches of their business. They'd never think of having the man who han-


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