N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 528


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

is the effort of laymen, not of lawyers, and I think we should recognize that the lay world has risen against the obstacles to progress that have prevailed under the old Constitution and which now block what is needed to give expression to the public will and to establish the requirements which the people feel are necessary.

You are only repeating history in integrating our courts. New York in 1852, I think it was, and England in 1873, did exactly, almost exactly, what you are now proposing to do. Yet, the vote in England, particularly, was that of the laity against the lawyers. The English Bar was almost unanimously opposed to the notion of getting rid of their ancient courts of Exchequer, Common Pleas, Queen's Bench and Chancery. Yet today, no outstanding English barrister would admit that the change forced on the legal profession by the public was not a change for the better. So I think you will find that, though the voices of many county bar associations are raised against the proposal to integrate the Court of Chancery in your General Court, your court of statewide original jurisdiction, the public at large supports that great improvement. Also, may I add that many lawyers who favor this change have not been as vocal as those who have appeared here in opposition?

After all, let me say a word in defense of those who do oppose. Lawyers are by nature and training conservatives. Those who come before you and urge the retention of the Court of Chancery, like my friend Mr. Ewart, are responding almost automatically to an affection that has been bred through years of practice in the Court of Chancery. But I think the point where the lawyer fails is in perspective. He is used to these forms and practices which the lay world knows about only in terms of disastrous result. It doesn't affect him as a lawyer to have to go from the Court of Chancery to one of the law courts and from one of the law courts to the Court of Chancery in conducting litigation to its ultimate end. It does affect the litigant. The lawyer is not so intent, and can't be in the nature of things, on the evil consequences of these vagaries of practice which have resulted in so many injustices. Only outside the profession can you see those consequencies. Therefore, I say, this is a lay revolution against the lawyers.

I notice that Mr. Ewart brought out the point which I think should be met right now, that we are risking the loss of our equity jurisprudence. Ladies and gentlemen, we are doing nothing of the sort. The Equity Division of your General Court will be constituted by the same able judges who administer equity throughout our State today, Vice-Chancellors and Advisory Masters. They will follow the same procedures to which they have been used, with certain added powers given them for the benefit of the litigant. The same volumes of Equity Reports will continue to be published


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