N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 550


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

pension rights of the presently serving judges who may be affected by the age limitation set in the Schedule. I think in justice to that group, and their identity is rather easily ascertainable, none of them should have their pension rights jeopardized by reason of an arbitrary removal on January 1, 1949. Some consideration should be given to that.

Now, and for just a few minutes more, I should like to give to the Committee my views for an alternate revision of the Judicial Article. It seems to me that there is no reason why we, or rather why this Committee and this Convention, cannot create a worthwhile judicial system merely by affecting a sensible modernization of the existing judicial structure. I would advance a proposal which, in the interest of both the bench and the bar, would preserve all that is worthwhile and time-tested.

This plan would obviate the necessity for both the judges and lawyers sort of going back to school to relearn the profession and redeveloping. It would, I think, simplify the court structure so that the ideal of helping a layman to understand it could be achieved. It would, in addition, preserve the physical value of our valuable precedents as they are now embodied in almost 300 printed volumes, and I think it would certainly obviate the need for a wholesale redrafting of our statute law. We all know, as was pointed out the other day by Dean Vanderbilt, that the 1937 revision of our statutes was the result of 12 years' intense effort and cost the State well over a million dollars. I don't think we have the time or the money to do that again. A simple revision of our present Judicial Article, I think, somewhat along these lines would obviate the necessity for all these objectionable features.

First, I believe that we are all agreed that the present Court of Errors and Appeals could be reduced in size and could be made a separate appellate court, the judges of which would have no other duty. Such a court could consist of a chief judge and six associate judges, all of whom, of course, would have to be lawyers ten years or twenty years, or whatever the limitation would be - experienced lawyers. And I think that the court should retain its present jurisdiction. Additional jurisdiction might be given, or some reasonable limitation might be placed upon the present jurisdiction.

Secondly, I think that the Court of Chancery should be retained as a separate court, presided over by the Chancellor, to the jurisdiction of which there should be added the present jurisdiction of the Prerogative Court. As to the method of appointing Vice-Chancellors, there is much to be said on both sides and I think that nothing that I could say would convince anybody. Everybody is quite partisan about it. That would be something which the Committee and Convention would have to decide, and the decision


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