N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 506

Wednesday, July 30, 1947 (Morning session)

a possible 1947 Constitution, have to live, irrespective of what system of judicial administration is devised. The lawyers have to charge their fees. Those fees must be substantial enough, not only to cover their overhead, but also to provide for their living expenses. There isn't much that any system can do to affect the cost of litigation. I think the lawyers know that it costs something like four dollars and a few cents to file a suit in the New Jersey Supreme Court, and you get a great deal of service for that four dollars. In the Court of Chancery the fees run between $25 and $35 to start a suit. For those rather inconsequential sums you get the services of the beautiful court houses, the expensive judges, the many court attaches, and so forth. The cost of litigation today in New Jersey is not out of line. Certainly, by comparison with the cost of litigation in England, it is very very modest.

Mr. McCarter made some objections to nomenclature, which I shall touch upon. I'd like to say that generally I am in agreement with his criticisms as to the nomenclature of courts. I'll explain the reasons in more detail later. There has been some talk, I think it was Mrs. Heinz, if I have her name correctly, from Somerset County, who spoke about small county judges. She said they weren't full-time judges. She thought the county courts ought to be integrated into the state system and gave her reasons for it.

Of course, one of the primary reasons that we have the county courts is to give some recognition to the principle of home rule. I think there is hardly any room for disagreement in saying that people in particular localities should have their, let's say, ordinary troubles or difficulties, whether they be civil or criminal, determined by courts which are familiar not only with local situations but with the people involved. For example, in criminal matters many people unfortunately and unwittingly are embroiled in circumstances which lead to the commission of a crime. There may be much to be said on their behalf when it comes time to fix sentence. Now, if a judge, let us say, from Sussex County, is to sit on the bench and determine the future fate, which may very well affect the possibility of rehabilitation, of a resident citizen who is convicted of a crime in, let us say, Cape May County, the other end of the State, that judge couldn't possibly give effect to all of the factors which he should take into consideration in determining sentence. The small counties are not suffering particularly by reason of the existence of a local judge in a county court. In the small counties the Legislature has provided for a minimum of one judge. First class counties may have a maximum of four, although the Governor under the statute is not required to appoint four. The small county judges sit only part of the time and are paid in proportion.

I think, if I am correct, the lowest salary paid any Common Pleas judge today is something like $3,500, which is, I think, a fair

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