N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 598
except the highest. It consists of three divisions - Law, Equity and Appellate - to accommodate all varieties of cases. The purpose of this arrangement is to avoid the faults of a separate Chancery Court while retaining what has proved valuable in New Jersey's special store of equity decisions. The number of General Court judges is placed at a minimum of fifty since there are at least fifty-five comparable judgeships under the present system.
The method of selecting judges is designed to avoid the faults inherent in both executive appointment and direct election of judges. Although the Governor is empowered to make the actual appointment he is limited in his choice to a list of qualified individuals recommended by the proposed Commission on Judicial Appointments. This Commission is to be composed of both legal and lay members since both the professional ability and general standing of judges are important.
The original seven-year term provided for judges of the General Court is recommended as long enough to insure freedom of decision. The provision that, at the end of this term the Commission on Judicial Appointments consider reappointment after holding a public hearing is designed to make removal possible in case of unsatisfactory performance. An opportunity for the public to express its opinion is desirable.
The qualifications required of judges are presented as a reasonable minimum. Since it is proposed that Supreme Court Justices serve during good behavior, the phraseology is designed to prevent the elevation of any General Court judge to the highest court prior to his reconsideration by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, as described above. It is possible for this review to take place after less than seven years of service if the judge has filled an unexpired term. Provision is made for the appointment of specially qualified referees to serve on special tribunals, since in some cases, such as Juvenile Courts, different qualifications than those required of judges are desirable.
The administrative section is designed to make possible a business-like administration of the courts under a single responsible executive, the Chief Justice, with competent assistance. The provision for annual assignment of General Court judges makes possible the delegation of each judge to the type of work for which he is best fitted. The provision for transfer of judges from one assignment to another, and for the appointment of special judges makes possible the relief of temporary court congestion. The omission of many details of administrative procedure is intentional. It is done in the belief that such matters can best be determined by the Supreme Court or by legislation.
The entire Judicial Article is presented in the belief that it makes possible a rapid, effective and economical system of justice.
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