N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 547


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

which permits a judge to be appointed to the highest court of this State and then obtain what amounts, in effect, to life tenure or tenure during good behavior, whereas a judge in the General Court must first serve an apprenticeship of seven years, with no guarantee of being reappointed, before he may have the benefit of the life tenure provision. The public generally laughs when lawyers say that a man is making a great sacrifice by assuming a judicial office. That, of course, isn't funny at all and it isn't untrue. The majority of our judges, I am quite sure, if they remained in the private practice rather than ascending the bench, could certainly make as much money in the private practice as they receive from the State and, in my judgment, a great deal more. They are making a sacrifice when they give up their private practice. We want the best lawyers to become our judges. If we are to give life tenure - if that is to be the decision - I think it should apply not only to the judges of the highest court but also to the judges in the court of statewide jurisdiction. I think that the principle that is to be applied in the highest court should be applied to the intermediate court.

Enough has been said about the retirement of judges at the age of 70 to permit me to omit the comment I intended to make. However, it seems to me that we are placing a little too much faith in our future Legislatures by leaving to them the matter of judicial pension. I think that is one of the things a man is entitled to. When he is asked to make the choice of giving up his practice and taking judicial office, he not only has a right to feel that he is going to stay on the bench but he also has a right to know that after having given those years of service to the State, at a very real financial sacrifice to himself and his family, he will not in his old age be exposed to the whims of the then-existing Legislature as to what his pension will be. I think the Constitution should provide for half-pay, or something like that.

Section V, paragraph 4: Personally, I am opposed to any method of removal except by way of impeachment. However, the world is moving along and there seems to be a firm body of opinion in the profession, as well as out of it, that impeachment is too cumbersome and impractical in many cases and that some other system should be tried. Well, if that is so, I suppose the federal system which has been in practice for some years on the issue of good behavior and which has been adopted by other states, might be the thing for us to adopt.

In connection with that, we come to Section V, paragraph 5, which to my mind contains a provision which could be deleted in toto. It seems to me that the Governor should not be permitted to have any hand in the removal of a judge, particularly by way of a commission appointed by the Governor. To get practical


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