N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 661

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

(New Jersey Law Journal, April 24, 1947)

York appellate systems? Only 11 states in the Union, outside of New Jersey, have appellate divisions or intermediate courts of appeal.

If Appellate Divisions are not provided for, then what branch of the new court system is to hear proceedings on prerogative writs, appeals from District Courts and the Workmen's Compensation Bureau, and other appeals heard on the record below? Such matters, it is submitted, could be attended to by Appellate Parts of the Law Division of the court which we may here call the Supreme Court (it was called the Superior Court under the 1944 proposed Constitution). Those Parts should consist perhaps of two panels, each of three judges, perhaps one sitting in Newark and the other in Trenton. The Appellate Parts would not entertain appeals from the Law or Chancery Divisions, but only review the proceedings of lower tribunals as above indicated.

In cases heard by an Appellate Part, as where an appeal is taken from a District Court or the Workmen's Compensation Bureau, there should be no appeal, as of right, to the Court of Appeals, except perhaps in cases involving constitutional questions or where there is a dissent in the Appellate Part or the matter is certified by the Appellate Part to the Court of Appeals. (These are questions which will be dealt with in the next editorial.) Litigants are entitled to a full and adequate consideration by one appellate court; further than that, it is submitted, their rights do not go. Appeals from an Appellate Part, except in the cases mentioned, should therefore be cognizable by the Court of Appeals, only with leave of that court.

Furthermore, such appeals as those coming up from the petty criminal courts, which are tried de novo by a judge in the Law Division of the Supreme Court, should (except for cases involving constitutional questions and perhaps other cases) only be heard by the Court of Appeals with its leave.

The contentions which are easiest to upset on paper and yet will doubtless prove most insidious in the councils of the Convention, are those advanced ad hominem. Thus, in dealing with the instant subject, it will be said that we have 85 judges (counting 33 Common Pleas judges) who will be looking for places in our system of superior and appellate courts. If upper court judges are all to become full-time judges (and that is certainly a most desirable objective) and if the 85 judges are to be continued in the new system at least for the balance of their present terms with reasonable prospects of reappointment (and that too is much to be desired), then it is said we have an added argument for the establishment of Appellate Divisions to attend not only to the business of the Appellate Part, above stated, but also to hear appeals from causes in the Chancery and Law Divisions. For the politicians will be quick to see that thereby dignified positions are provided for more men.

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