N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 391


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

MR. MINTON: I'm speaking about policies.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: I'm talking about substantive principles of equity. Do you think it's all right for one Vice-Chancellor to express one opinion and another Vice-Chancellor another opinion and have it ultimately decided by the Court of Errors and Appeals?

MR. MINTON: No, I think that is all right. I mean, I don't say that the Chancellor should dictate the decisions, Mr. Jacobs. What I do say is that the Chancellor should have some control to dictate the policies - the general policies - of the court. I do believe that these conferences which he has with these men that he has appointed, beholden to him, are extremely important and extremely productive.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Would you apply the same notions to the Supreme Court, namely, that the Supreme Court Justices should follow the policies, as you phrased it, which are announced by the Supreme Court?

MR. MINTON: Well, Mr. Vice-Chairman, when I speak of Supreme Court judges, I am speaking of the nisi prius, in other words, the trial judges. And I don't think that the same rule would apply, or that it could apply. On the Court of Appeals, that's an entirely different proposition. The Chancellor has nothing to do with the Court of Appeals.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

MR. MINTON: Thank you very much, gentlemen.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Mr. Otto, Surrogate of Union County.

MR. CHARLES A. OTTO, JR.: I'm here today on behalf of the surrogates' group of the Clerks, Surrogates and Registers Association of New Jersey which is a combined group of office holders. It seems to be the consensus of opinion of the surrogates that I've had occasion to talk with about the change of the status of the surrogates, that their present status be retained, for this reason: that it is a democratic set-up, it's close to the people, the surrogate is elected by the people, and the opportunity is afforded to professional men, particularly lawyers, and the laity, to come to the office, and they even have the privilege of close personal contact with the surrogate or the deputy or the subordinates in the office. It also makes for efficiency and quick service, particularly where there are no contested cases - uncontested wills or any uncontested matter. The surrogate passes upon the proper execution of the will, and enters the decree after the proper time has elapsed; he also enters other decrees with relation to - uncontested, of course - guardianship, administration, proper bonds, and so forth. In one sense he acts as a court. He also acts as clerk to his own court and clerk to the Orphans' Court. In Union County we found - and I polled a number of members of the Bar Association - that they feel that this system, so far as the surro-


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