N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 411


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

mit that to be tried in equity, where both parties consented that the equity court try it?

CHANCELLOR OLIPHANT: I don't know that you could today.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: But would you, under a new system, permit that?

CHANCELLOR OLIPHANT: If it is an incidental question and they want it tried there, I don't see any particular objection to it.

MR. PETERSON: May I ask another question, Chancellor? Is there any objection to the Vice-Chancellors issuing and signing their own decrees?

CHANCELLOR OLIPHANT: Well, Mr. Peterson, in effect they do that in the great majority of the cases today. Why, I wouldn't have anything to do but that if I had to sign all the decrees; but there are cases where I won't sign the decrees - or there have been.

MR. PETERSON: Which I can see may be good.

MR. GEORGE F. SMITH: Chancellor, I want to be sure that I understand your position. As I understand it, when you speak of amalgamation, you are opposed to what we may term the federal system, but you are not opposed to a Division of Chancery as distinguished from Law in a so-called integrated court.

CHANCELLOR OLIPHANT: The set-up which I would see as ideal is to have your court of last resort, your Supreme Court; then, in the nisi prius parts of the courts, your Court of Chancery headed by the Chancellor, your law courts headed by a Chief Justice, who will run those courts. The top man of the top court cannot do it. It's a physical and mental impossibility, in my judgment. And then below that, have your county courts.

MR. SMITH: In other words, you are agreeable to a division or a separate Court of Chancery, as it now is.

CHANCELLOR OLIPHANT: I'm agreeable to - I say I'm agreeable; I don't know what I am agreeable to, until I see what this Committee develops.

MR. SMITH: But you are not opposed at this moment to that idea?

CHANCELLOR OLIPHANT: I would prefer to see the courts' present set-up, to a very large extent - I mean the courts worked out within the present framework, because there are going to be any number of technical difficulties, let alone legal difficulties, in the change-over. If there is any change, we're going to have to, somebody is going to have to rewrite half of the statutes, it's going to take months to formulate new rules, and after you get the rules, you're going to spend thousand of dollars and many years in determining what they're all about. The more we can keep our present rules, the better off the litigant and the lawyer are going to be.


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