N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 493


STATE OF NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1947
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
Wednesday, July 30, 1947 (Morning session)

judges in a couple of the counties of the State where a machine was running rampant. I think that should be permitted to continue; the General Court should continue to have constitutionally all of the criminal jurisdiction that the present Supreme Court has so it can certiorari, or whatever other name you want to call it, indictments; so that it can handle the situation - change of venue, and all things of that nature. It should be done by the great statewide court. The supervisory powers that are part of criminal matters should remain, although, of course, the concurrent jurisdiction of the criminal courts in the county should continue.

Passing now to Section IV, paragraph 1, subparagraph (a) - that permits an appeal as of right to what is called the Supreme Court in constitutional questions. I am just wondering - I throw this out as an inquiry - do you want to permit that, no matter how threadbare or fully established the constitutional question is? The question might arise and be decided in the case of Smith v Jones - decided in favor of the constitutionality of the statute in question - and Brown v Robinson coming along a month or so later might raise the same question that has been decided. Yet, under this provision, it could go as of right to the Supreme Court. I just make that suggestion.

Now we turn to paragraph 2 of that Section. I don't feel it is clear. It says (reading):

"Appeals may be taken to the Appellate Division of the General Court from the Law and Equity Divisions of the General Court and in such other causes as may be provided by law."

Does that mean that constitutionally any order whatsoever of either Division of the General Court may be taken to the Appellate Division? Or is there to be any permission for the Legislature or the rules to regulate and limit that? The concluding phrase, "and in such other causes as may be provided by law," would seem to apply to other causes than orders of the General Court. I submit there might be some clarifying language in there.

Then we come to paragraph 3 of that Section (reading):

"The Supreme Court and the Appellate Division of the General Court may exercise such original jurisdiction as may be incident to the complete determination of any cause on review."

That immediately raises the question, what about questions requiring a jury trial? What about questions of fact? It is a dangerous provision. It might or might not be deemed to abolish a jury trial to that extent, but a critic of the Constitution would have a very loud talking point in saying that you are doing away with jury trial.

Paragraph 4 of the same Section IV (reading):

"Prerogative writs are superseded and, in lieu thereof, review shall be afforded by the General Court as of right, except in criminal causes, in the manner provided by rules of the Supreme Court."


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