N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 392

Wednesday, July 9, 1947 (Afternoon session)

gate's status there and throughout the State is concerned, should not be changed, for the reasons I have given.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Do you visualize that as a constitutional problem or as a legislative problem?

MR. OTTO: No, I feel this is in the hands of the Legislature. The office may be entirely abolished. We are getting away more and more from the democratic ideas about things, it seems to me, when we begin to centralize. It's just possible that they'll centralize all these offices, and eventually we'll have a virtual dictator who tells us just how to run everything.

My thought is that you have an officer whose jurisdiction is confined to the county in which the office is established. The people have a right to remove that officer after a certain term of years - he has now, under the Constitution, five years. The Constitution does not set up what his duties are. I understand that the Legislature can strip the surrogate of all his jurisdiction and authority, as they've done with coroners and as they've done with justices of the peace. It would seem to me, if anything, that it might be established as a constitutional office with certain definite duties to perform. I believe the proposed Constitution of 1944 had some set-up of that kind.

Now, I don't know what kind of courts might be established, whether you want to integrate your courts or what you are going to do. However, the people will finally decide. It would seem to me that the surrogate should be part of that judicial system, and should remain as an elective officer.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Any further questions of Mr. Otto? ... Thank you very much, Mr. Otto.

Mr. Nulton, representing the County Clerks' Association.

MR. HENRY G. NULTON: As Vice-President of the County Clerks, Surrogates and Registers of Deeds and Mortgages Association, and as County Clerk of Union County, it is my considered opinion that the document that you are going to write and submit to the people for their approval must look one step further, namely:

While you must and will think of it from an administrative standpoint, think of it in terms of serving the people for whom you are writing this document, something they must live under. Speaking for the county clerks - we, as you know, are clerks of all the courts in the county except the Orphans' Court - the surrogate is the clerk of the Orphans' Court. The pleadings for all cases tried in the county, except Supreme Court cases, are filed in the county. That may mean nothing when you look at it at first glance, but look at it from the standpoint of the convenience of the citizens of the county. Pleadings in the Supreme Court are not filed in the county; they are filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court. And, if any of the citizens want to see the pleadings, it is necessary for them to go to

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