N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 657
the Court of Chancery with the law courts. However, plans for completely revamping our court system were offered in 1909 by Governors John W. Griggs and Franklin Murphy, Justice Bennet Van Syckel and Messrs. Charles L. Corbin and John R. Hardin, and in the proposed revision of 1944 prepared by the Legislature. Both plans, while differing in some details, envisaged a unified court of original jurisdiction with one section for equity and probate cases and another section for cases at law. Separate, simplified appellate courts were provided in each plan. Here were the blueprints of a judicial system designed to meet the needs and conditions of today.
Dean Pound, addressing a New Jersey audience of lawyers in 1941 (for the full address, see page 2 of this issue), made the following pertinent observations:
"In this process of making over and simplifying the organization of courts, the controlling ideas should be unification, flexibility, conservation of judicial power and responsibility.
Unification is called for in order to concentrate the machinery of justice upon its tasks. Flexibility is called for to enable it to meet speedily and efficiently the continually varying demands made upon it. Responsibility is called for in order that some one may always be held and clearly stand out as the official to be held if the judicial organization is not functioning the most efficiently that the law and the nature of its tasks permit. Conservation of judicial power is a sine qua non of efficiency under the circumstances of the time. There are so many demands pressing upon our state governments for expenditures of public money that so costly a mechanism as the system of courts cannot justify needless and expensive duplications and archaic business methods."
The proposed 1944 revision embodied the essentials of the court system suggested by the eminent Harvard authority. It was supported by all those genuinely concerned with a modern, efficient court system. The case for the 1944 revision was most eloquently stated by the present Chancellor on May 9th, 1944, as follows:
"Many have seen the desirability of merging, in some respects, the law and equity branches of the courts, at the same time retaining the benefits of both systems with the opportunity to maintain judicial experts in each branch.
There has been a crying need for the benefits which would result from having a really responsible head for all courts of the State.
The revision, which we will have the opportunity to adopt and which I hope we will adopt, will create a court system which eliminates the undesirable features of the present system and substitutes a coordinated, unified, cohesive, workable system operating under a chief justice responsible for the proper functioning of the entire system. The judges will be allocated to those branches where they will have an opportunity to use their best talents.
The plan presents an opportunity for greater efficiency in our judicial system and we should make sure that there is no question about its adoption."
The defeat of the 1909 amendments was, as Chancellor Walker frankly stated, "due to political conditions and not the amendments themselves." As to the 1944 proposal, the tactics and forces employed for its defeat are still fresh in the memories of most of us
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