N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 432

Thursday, July 10, 1947 (Afternoon session)

We have in America today, to a degree that many of us do not appreciate, a repetition of the tug-of-war that existed back in the 13th and 14th Centuries, and it is evidenced by the growth during the last decade of administrative agencies. Lawyers, and particularly litigants, have sought to escape from the confining requirements that have been prescribed by practice acts, by statutes, by court rules, by, above all things, repetitious appeals, and have turned to administrative agencies in the hope of finding speedy and complete justice. Now, in this trend toward administrative practice, with all of its desirable features, there are also some very dangerous features. We substitute for men trained in the law, upon occasion, men who are not trained in the law. But worse, they are confronted with not hundreds of cases that must be disposed of, but literally thousands of cases. This gives rise to the criticism that, in some instances, administrative agencies have become something less than quasi-judicial bodies, but rather administrative mills grinding out decisions pro forma.

What I have said about administrative agencies does not apply in every instance. Nonetheless, there is a possibility that unless we create here in New Jersey a flexible court to which litigants and lawyers may turn and from whom they can expect complete justice, we may expect our citizens to turn in increasing numbers to administrative procedure.

I don't believe that the top court should be compelled to hear an appeal in every cause. I am confident that if we develop the kind of flexible formula that is so badly needed, the great majority of appeals can be terminated with the appellate division, and only cases of major importance, recognized as such, involving constitutional questions, the death penalty, conflict between members of the General Court, need be taken up to the top court. I think that is a very important point. I am confident that the Chief Justice will agree with me that we have entirely too many decisions in the books and that it would be far better if we were to have a compact group of decisions dealing with fundamental questions, and not the present procedure involving repetitious decisions tending to confuse rather than enlighten.

I need not tell you that dispensing justice is not a game - Chief Justice Brogan is well aware of the seriousness of the problem. Nor should our citizens be given a brush-off, to use an expression, merely because a court is overburdened with work, as is the case today, perhaps because of the multitudinous duties that are placed upon the shoulders of our Supreme Court Justices, who are also members of the Court of Errors and Appeals, and charged with certain responsibilities in the counties. Older judges may chuckle over the perplexity of a younger lawyer as he ponders the hard choice between law and equity, or charts an uncertain course through the

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