N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 476

Thursday, July 24, 1947 (Afternoon session)

by two separate and distinct courts at two levels of a very important issue, such as a capital case or such as a constitutional law case, the like of which you are creating today, you would settle down to rock bottom much sooner and you would have the citizenry of the State know where they are headed through their judiciary more quickly; therefore they would not be in a legal state of flux in relation to the new Constitution.

I likewise feel that on the merits of the litigation today people are entitled to two appeals. Oftentimes, in the heat of the public clamor legislation is sometimes hurriedly passed and it, in my estimation, requires consideration of more than one body.

I am very much sold, members of the Committee, on the appellate system in the federal system. There you have two levels of appeal: the first, or the lower level, is as a matter of right; the second, in the majority of cases, is as a matter of grace, except in your certain statutory or constitutional law question cases. I therefore feel that in our new Constitution it would be to the interest of the citizenry and the State if we had two separate and distinct courts of appeal that didn't have to bother with administrative work of other counties or districts or provinces, whatever you might call them. That would be all that they would do. They wouldn't be integrated in any way and the judges themselves, in their particular court, would all consider the issues before them. The lower level would be a court of right, the appeal would be as a matter of right. The upper level would hear as a matter of right capital cases and constitutional law cases, and as a matter of grace, either by some procedure which they themselves would establish, writ of certiorari or anything else, those appeals that they, of course, felt were of such moment they should be heard and passed upon by them.

Now in relation to the other issues, one that I would like to speak about is the Court of Chancery. I don't want to repeat all of the fine things and the expressions of fine study and fine thought that have been expressed here to you Committee members by much more prominent and eminent persons than myself. But there was one thought - if it has been expressed here I haven't been able to see it in the public press - and that is this: I think the Chief Justice could now disclose that a judge is not only a judge. He's a judge out in the courtroom where he is deciding legal issues, but there is a certain mechanical process that has to be gone through to get those legal issues before him. Therefore, in the back room in a certain period of the day, in a certain part of the week, he becomes an administrator in order to establish his calendar.

Now, there is talk of abolishing the Court of Chancery, and I've heard it said that the federal system is a good system to show the dispatch of work, and so forth and so on. Wasn't it Vice-Chancellor Merritt Lane, appearing before a legislative committee one time

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