N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 57
that there are things that could be done to improve the judiciary. Considering all the states, it is interesting to see that New Jersey is not alone in a rather chaotic situation. Apparently a good deal of the judicial procedure has grown up in, shall I say, a rather topsy fashion. We are not alone in this, but it does seem to me, after studying the reports and having gone into the matter in considerable detail, that some of the practices that have come about in our system are a bit on the fantastic side.
The set-up of the League proposals stresses as its fundamental requisite that a system of courts which can be explained and understood by the average intelligent citizen is a very desirable situation. As you are aware, that is not the case now. I asked a New York lawyer, who happens to be a resident of the State of New Jersey, to explain to me the New Jersey system of courts, and he said, "It is far too intricate for me to understand." I don't think I would have any contradiction from you if I said to you, if you chose the upper ten percent of the most intelligent, best informed people in any group in any community in the State, they would have considerable difficulty in explaining the system we now have.
Why do we think that this simplified unity is important? There are three reasons. One of them is so simple as to be practically axiomatic. Anything which is simple, any kind of machinery for any kind of performance, is likely to work better. It is much less likely to substitute gear noises for the turning of wheels.
Second, if the court system could be understood by the average layman, it would increase his interest in government. We realize more and more that better understanding by the average citizen of his government is going to be increasingly important if, as a democracy, we are going to continue to exist.
Third, and most important - a simplified system of any branch of government fixes responsibility clearly. If it breaks down, we know where the responsibility lies and the error may be corrected more carefully, more quickly and more reasonably. I am afraid that it is a little vulgar to say, but I think it expresses the idea - a chaotic system like this is likely to produce a system which results in "passing the buck."
What, in the simplest essence, is the system of courts proposed by the League? In the first place, a Supreme Court - this follows the nomenclature of the United States and 38 of the 48 states - with a personnel to consist of a Chief Justice and six Associate Justices. I think common experience in the handling of business makes anyone realize that it is much quicker to bring seven to a conclusion than 16, and the decision is quite as wise if the average calibre is equal.
We would like to have all other courts which administer justice
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