N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 659

Editorials from the New Jersey Law Journal, April 17 to June 12, 1950

(New Jersey Law Journal, April 24, 1947)

torials will deal first with our appellate courts and then with our superior courts of original jurisdiction. The views advanced in this series are presented argumentatively for the purpose of stimulating thought; they do not indicate convictions to which we are immutably attached. On the contrary, we reserve the right to amend our views. Moreover, by stating the questions controversially, we hope particularly to draw out thoughtful comment from the bar.

Happily the bench and bar are nearly of one mind on a very important matter, namely that our highest court should be reconstituted as a court of either five or seven members. But from this point on, almost every proposal for the improvement of the system is involved in controversy.

The critical question raised by the subject at hand is whether the proposed highest court, call it the Court of Appeals if you wish, can adequately attend to so much of the appellate business of the State as to render it necessary to set up Appellate Divisions. In order to compare the work now performed by the Chancellor and the Justices of the present Supreme Court with that to be performed by the Justices of the new Court of Appeals, one must consider their respective functions. Doubtless in keeping with the best views of the times, the Chief Justice of the new Court of Appeals will be constituted the administrative head of the courts of the State and, hence, will find himself much engaged with his administrative duties. Doubtless, too, in keeping with those views, the remaining Justices of the Court of Appeals will be obliged to give time to the making of rules governing the practice of the courts of the State. On the other hand, it must be borne in mind that during the last ten years the Chancellor has devoted himself largely to administrative tasks in his own court and has had to attend also to the work of the Court of Pardons. Moreover, Justices of the Supreme Court have heard proceedings on prerogative writs and motions at the circuit and from time to time have charged grand juries; these are functions which properly should not devolve upon members of the new Court of Appeals.

Besides, the new Court of Appeals will be more efficient than the Court of Errors and Appeals. By the mere reduction of the personnel from 16 to five or seven, there will be reduced proportionately the number of repetitious conference memoranda written by the members of the court for each other's benefit, memoranda which the opinion writer should be obliged to examine. Indeed, our present bench is so unwieldly as a deliberate body that in order to pass adequately on each cause before it, it sits first in part conferences and then in a general conference of the whole court. There are other efficiencies to be secured from the new Court of Appeals. If it should hold monthly terms, study briefs in advance of argu-

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