N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 401


STATE OF NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1947
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
Thursday, July 10, 1947 (Morning session)

very little expense. If this jurisdiction of the surrogate is not preserved, these proceedings will have to be taken before the County Court, with more delay, increased difficulty and considerably increased expense.

With reference to appeals, of which I have said there should be one as a matter of right in most cases, those from the Court of Chancery, the nisi prius law courts and the County Courts should, I believe, go to the intermediate or screening court except in capital cases, which should go direct to the court of last resort. That court should take appeals from the intermediate court in cases presenting constitutional questions, questions of great public interest, cases in which there is a written dissent in the intermediate court, and on certification by the court of last resort. Under this plan, should the intermediate court become overburdened with work and the load is not too heavy in the top court, any number of cases can be brought up so that the burden may be equalized. The constitutional provision regarding appeals should be sufficiently flexible to allow legislative change. Times change and case loads vary through the years.

I am not going to review the historical background of the Court of Chancery. That has been given to you by previous witnesses, but I do want to point out it has grown and adapted its remedies and procedures to accommodate the changing and growing demands of the population who have remade the State, over the years, from a purely agricultural one to one of the greatest industrial states in the Union. To this court came the increasing and complicated affairs of those individuals and corporations who were building the new industrial economy. The court has grown with the State and has reached its present status because as a court of equity it has had the flexibility and resources to adapt its remedies to the vastly changed circumstances of the economic life of the State. True, some anachronisms exist, but these can be cured and the practice modernized and simplified. This I had hoped to accomplish when, in view of this Convention being held, it was deemed wise to postpone such work.

I do want to take a little time to tell you why I so strongly advocate a separate and distinct Court of Chancery, headed by the Chancellor and with the right of appointment of the Vice-Chancellors reposing in him.

The Court of Chancery is a court of conscience and obviously that conscience must reside in one person, the Chancellor. He must have absolute control over his Vice-Chancellors and they must be responsible to him alone. The Chancellor must make the rules for his court and have frequent conferences with his Vice-Chancellors. He must determine the policies of the court. If each Vice-Chancellor were permitted to exercise an individual discretion, in discretionary


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