N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 530


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

inclusion. Nevertheless, I recognize that forceful arguments may be made in favor of what I may call county sovereignty, in favor of the local judge who knows his county institutions, who is familiar with county conditions, and I recognize that you have given effect to those arguments by allowing the continuance of the criminal and probate functions of the county judge. I also note, however, that in time those powers are subject to the superior power given by your draft to the Legislature to integrate the criminal and probate functions of the County Court. I take it that what you have in mind is a period of experimentation in leaving to the county judges their existing powers except for the civil suits formerly brought in the Court of Common Pleas.

We recognize your approach to a difficult problem. We still say, however, that our advocacy is of a complete integration.

Now, I go to a third point where I propose a suggestion which has the approval of our committee. It is a suggestion made informally, and yet form may be quite important. It is with regard to the name or title you have given to your court of original jurisdiction, the General Court. I think it is a good name. The adjective "General" is apt. It is somewhat original. Of course, it is true that the Massachusetts Legislature when that was a court, I believe, was called the General Court. But I propose for your consideration another title which may appeal to you more. I am avoiding the title given in the 1944 Constitution, "Superior Court." I think we do well to drop the comparative and superlative adjectives. I don't like "Supreme Court," incidentally and while I am speaking on the subject, any more than I do "Superior Court," and I think that George McCarter is right in proposing "Court of Appeals." I think the term "General Court" is an apt description of what the court does.

But, to come back to the General Court, my suggestion is perhaps a bit nostalgic but it has appropriateness. In 1682, there was consolidated and unified in New Jersey all of the law courts, or the jurisdiction of the law courts, from the system in England, and one court was established which embraced all those law courts. That court existed for 20 years, until 1702, when it was known as the "Court of Common Right," a title which has, it seems to me, certain elements of its own and a certain appropriateness, because we offer to its suitors a common right given by all of our jurisprudences and under the jurisdictions of all of the courts which we are now merging. Perhaps that may appeal to you.

Maybe you would rather adjourn, Mr. Chairman, and let me continue briefly after the recess.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: If you don't mind. ... We will recess until 2:15.

(The session adjourned for luncheon at 1:00 P. M.)


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