N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 464


STATE OF NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1947
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
Thursday, July 24, 1947 (Morning session)

Mr. St. Clair, we are sitting as a Committee to facilitate construction of the Judicial Article of the Constitution and we are interested in any remarks that may bear on that issue, but not on any items that are particularly beyond our concern.

MR. LEO J. ST. CLAIR: Mr. Chairman, first I want to explain to everyone present that I am not a lawyer; I am primarily an engineer and a business man. Mr. Lombard indicated that the present Chancery Court system apparently is excellent because they specialize. I am a great believer in specialization, but am definitely not a believer in the present specialization of Chancery Courts of New Jersey, at least as exercised in regard to receivership. I have become quickly acquainted with the way receivership is conducted in New Jersey. I would really liken it to despotism and I don't believe that Hitler had anything any better.

Briefly, to bring you up to date in the situation in which I presently find myself, I am president of the General Tool and Die Company, of East Orange. This company was thrown into the hands of a receiver by Vice-Chancellor Stein about two weeks ago. It should never have been thrown into the hands of the receiver. However, it seems to be an objective on the part of a group of persons here in New Jersey who, I think, make their money too damned easily, to throw companies into the hands of receivers so that their friends, their lawyer friends, can get a nice counsel fee. The assets of this corporation were about -

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Pardon me, may I break in here a minute? Please bear in mind what I said at the start. I would like you to confine your remarks to something that will be helpful to us in connection with the Constitution.

MR. ST. CLAIR: Yes, all right. You mean a proposal of how this should be changed?

VICE-CHAIRMAN: In the Constitution. That is what we are talking about.

MR. ST. CLAIR: Well, please bear in mind, Mr. Chairman, that I am not a lawyer, but if you want my proposal as to the way receiverships and bankruptcies should be conducted, under the new Chancery Court system as has been recommended, and which I understand is being fought by a minority group, I would propose this system. That the equity division, of course, be definitely under the Supreme Court; that the Supreme Court appoint three, let us say, business advisors or arbiters who would be paid a retainer fee. First, may I qualify a successful business man? A successful business man, to me, is one who can leave his business at any time without any interference in its performance because he has trained executives to carry on for him at any time. Hence, these three arbiters or counselors, I don't know just what name to give them, would be free to serve under the Supreme Court in this capacity. They


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