N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 399

Thursday, July 10, 1947 (Morning session)

shuttled from one court to another. It reads as follows, and I am submitting it to the Committee for consideration:

"The Courts of Law are vested with jurisdiction to hear and determine any equitable question which is an incident of the legal cause of action; the Court of Chancery is vested with jurisdiction to hear and determine any legal question which is an incident of the equitable cause of action and to empanel a jury to determine the legal issue or issues in the cause, provided the parties do not consent to waive, in writing, their respective rights to trial by jury. The Court of Appeals is vested with power to enact and promulgate rules regulating all this jurisdiction, the hearing of all causes, the entry of appropriate judgments or decrees therein and the transfer of causes when necessary."

That brings us to the problem of what courts should be constituted below the court of last resort. I would set up what I will call, names meaning little, a screening court with the jurisdiction pretty much that of our present Supreme Court. An intermediate court is, I believe, much more preferable than appellate divisions. It is very valuable to have a body of men meeting together, exchanging views, discussing common problems and working as a team rather than in separate units. I would have this court composed of at least nine judges, with power in the Legislature to increase the number if necessity demands. I would have the members of this court exercise a supervisory jurisdiction over the County Courts, each judge having a judicial district as the present members of the Supreme Court have. This has a very salutory affect and the need for such supervision has been vividly shown over the last few months.

Then there should a separate Court of Chancery, as it is constituted today, and the nisi prius law courts, the Chancellor presiding over and having the administration of his branch and a Chief Judge of the law courts being charged with the administration of them.

The Chancellor and the Chief Judge of the law courts would each report to the Chief Justice of the court of last resort as to the work of his court.

The right of the Chancellor to appoint his Vice-Chancellors should be preserved. With the proper type of Chancellor, given life tenure, appointments could and I believe would be made without political pressure and the highest type of judicial officer procured. To say that if this method of appointment is followed in the Chancery Court, why should it not be in the law courts, is to beg the question. It would probably be better if the same method of appointment were followed there.

The Prerogative Court should be abolished and its original jurisdiction given to the Court of Chancery. Matrimonial jurisdiction should by all means remain in the Court of Chancery. I feel free to say that we have in this State the finest system for dealing with matrimonial cases in the country. There is absolute control,

Previous Page in Book ********* Table of Contents *********** Next Page in Book