N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 580


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

4. Independence and Responsibility of the Judges

nized and has resulted in various schemes in different states. We propose alternative methods both for presenting charges and for trying them. Judges could be removed either by two-thirds of the Senate or by the Supreme Court. Proceedings could be initiated in either body on charges brought either by the Chief Justice, by the General Assembly, by the Judicial Council, or by the Governor, and the Senate would also be able to initiate charges in the Supreme Court.

The principal sources of these proposals are the present New York Constitution and a current proposal to amend the New York Constitution by providing for a Special Court on the Judiciary. (See concurrent resolution introduced by Mr. Reoux in the Assembly, Number 313, January 14, 1947.) We understand from the New York Citizens Union, one of the sponsors of the New York amendment, that they would have preferred to give the removal power to the Court of Appeals itself, but that the provision for the special court composed of the Chief Justice and the senior Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals and one Justice of the Appellate Division in each department was a compromise.

The present Constitution of New York provides both for impeachment and for removal of members of the Court of Appeals and of the Supreme Court by resolution of both houses concurred in by two-thirds of all members. Other judicial officers may be removed by two-thirds of the Senate on recommendation of the Governor.

Our provision for the preferring of charges by the Governor as well as by the legislative houses and the Judicial Council or the Chief Justice seems appropriate in view of the responsibility of the Governor for law enforcement and the knowledge that the Executive Department would have concerning the conduct of judges.

We see no reason for an elaborate statement of the grounds for removal in the Constitution. The New York Constitution simply states that removal shall be "for cause." We think the general expression, "conduct unbecoming a judge," may be better. It is certainly undesirable to use language that suggests that the judge must be guilty of something that would be recognized in an ordinary court of law as a crime.

The proposed provision for retirement of a justice or judge who has become incapacitated is based on the proposed New York amendment cited above. This is especially important if judges are to be given long terms. The same consideration requires inclusion of a provision for mandatory retirement at age 70, which we propose subject to possible recall to temporary service as need may appear.

5. Form of the Judiciary Article

We have tried to confine the proposed Article to fundamental matter needed to establish a truly independent Judicial Department

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