N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 577


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

2. Convenience

more accessible to litigants, in many cases, than the various district and local courts now are. (Sec. VI, par. 5)

There is no reason why convenient sittings of the General Court for the trial of small causes and minor infractions of law cannot be held under such conditions and rules as to make what the English call the "low justice" even more accessible and less expensive than it is today. Cheap justice is all too often no justice at all. In some ways, the quality of justice dispensed in so-called minor matters is more important to society than that in the much smaller number of causes involving large sums or spectacular issues. The proposed draft is based on the proposition that the small case should be tried near at home, but that it is entitled to the services of just as competent a judge as any million-dollar action.

3. Flexibility

The division of the General Court into sections, departments, and special tribunals permits of specialization, expansion and contraction, while at the same time maintaining a singleness of responsibility and a consistency of procedure essential to efficiency and the proper administration of justice. For example, separate civil, criminal, juvenile and domestic relations, or other sections or departments may be set up, as many as necessary to carry on the judicial business of the State. When other sections are found to be necessary, the Supreme Court or the Legislature is given the power to create them.

In establishing these sections and determining the number of departments each section should have, the plans can be elastic enough to handle the heavy load of litigation in the larger urban centers, yet adjustable to the more simple demands of the sparsely populated districts. We have deliberately avoided any provision requiring the primary assignment of a single judge to a particular county to the extent that the business of the General Court will occupy his time, because we see no reason why the smaller counties should be deprived of the benefit of the specialized service that would be available in the larger counties.

Neither probate nor matrimonial jurisdiction is specifically mentioned, on the theory that it is undesirable to freeze any allocation or definition of these jurisdictions into the Constitution; but the equity section is made the residuary legatee of all jurisdiction that may at any time not be allocated to any other section. (Sec. III, par. 3)

In the matter of juvenile delinquency, the recognized treatment is by specially trained persons in a tribunal with jurisdiction limited to that field. The proposed draft makes it clear that the Supreme Court or the Legislature may provide for specially trained referees to assist the General Court. This plan of specialized training may

Previous Page in Book ********* Table of Contents *********** Next Page in Book