N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 523

Wednesday, July 30, 1947 (Morning session)

peals which we do not have at the present time in the Court of Errors and Appeals, whose functions will be taken over by this Supreme Court under the tentative draft.

The fourth point that our group favored, and I have mentioned it briefly before, is the retention of an independent Court of Chancery in this State, as presently constituted, with the provision to continue in the Chancellor the power to appoint Vice-Chancellors rather than to transfer that power to the Governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate. I don't want to take much time on it except to repeat what was said before, that this is the day of specialization.

There is a tremendous body of equity law or equity jurisprudence directly and vitally affecting the individual and property rights of the people in this State. We think and feel strongly the fact that we need specialists to administer equity law and equity jurisprudence in this State, as we have had in the past, under which system our equity decisions rank very high throughout the United States. It has been said repeatedly, and I think truly, that the decisions of our New Jersey equity courts have attained a preeminent position in equity jurisprudence throughout the United States, and why that system of specialization in the administration of equity jurisprudence should be abolished when it has proved so successful, we can't understand.

There are a couple of items in the proposed draft of which I would like to speak, and I may say that from here on I am expressing my individual views rather than the views of the group I came here to represent. This draft proposes - I have forgotten the section - an independent court of appeals, to be called the Supreme Court. There shall be seven judges, five of whom shall be a quorum. One of the previous speakers suggested to you that, under that provision it would be possible to get a decision by a majority of a quorum, namely, three. Now, the decisions of the new Supreme Court are going to make law in this State, and if a majority of a quorum, namely three, can hand down the final law in this State, then you have the law being laid down by a minority of your new Supreme Court. My objection is not the point that five should constitute a quorum. I think that is all right. But I think there ought to be some further provision that it would take more than three to render final decisions on important questions in this State.

Another point that I would like to mention briefly is the mandatory provision contained somewhere in this draft for the retirement of judges at the age of 70. A number of lawyers with whom I have spoken think that would be a mistake. The age at which a man becomes incapacitated to fulfill the functions of a judicial office varies, of course, with the individual. Some men are old at 60; some

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