N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 576


Explanation of Draft of Proposed Judicial Article Recommended by the Committee1 See page 26 for draft of Judicial Article proposed.

We shall now discuss briefly the reasoning behind the provisions designed to obtain these objectives:

1. Complete Unification

Any plan for the establishment of a unified court system fails of its full purpose if it fails to include the inferior courts. These courts conduct the great bulk of our judicial business, and some are notorious for the maladministration of justice. They represent a heterogeneous collection of minor tribunals, each functioning independently of any other court, each a law unto itself as to its conduct and procedure, each dispensing a different measure of justice, and each contributing to the general confusion of our judicial system. There is much more need for unification in our lower courts than in our upper courts. In the attached plan, there is an integrated Judicial Department consisting of a Supreme Court and a General Court, the inferior courts to be merged into appropriate sections of the General Court. (Sec. I, par, 1)

Unification of the criminal courts was recommended by the Judicial Council in its 1938 report. The special committee appointed by the Judicial Council, after an exhaustive study, suggested one criminal court for the State, pointing out that the collapse of our lower criminal courts is primarily due to the fact that they are not "independent judicial tribunals but a part of the police system" and as such they become political instrumentalities. The report discloses the crying need for a single state control over criminal matters.

Although the proposed general state court is given exclusive jurisdiction of all matters rising directly under state law, municipal home rule is preserved by providing that the Legislature may authorize municipalities to establish municipal tribunals with jurisdiction limited to matters involving local ordinances. Municipal courts would, however, be subject to supervision by the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court and any case could be transferred automatically to the General Court at the request of either party. (Sec. III, par. 5)

2. Convenience

In order to make the General Court readily available to all litigants in all parts of the State, the Chief Justice is empowered to set up offices of the court for the issuance, receiving and filing of papers. In order to provide speedy justice for accused persons, the clerks of these offices are empowered to receive complaints and admit to bail as allowed by rules of the Supreme Court. (Sec. VI, par. 4)

In order to provide a mobile court and an efficient court, the Chief Justice is empowered to assign judges to any part of the State where court session is needed. Thus the General Court can be made

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