N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 67


STATE OF NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1947
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
Wednesday, June 25, 1947 (Morning session)

MR. CONFORD: Four members of our committee were in favor of that as second choice.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: That is number three?

MR. CONFORD: Yes. The fourth approach - and this is the approach for which four members of our committee voted as first choice, including myself, and on which I will speak at greater length later - is for the creation of a new separate Chancery Court for the exercise of Chancery jurisdiction, with judges to be appointed in exactly the same way as law judges are appointed, and with a chief judge who is to exercise judicial power and not merely administrative functions, as is the situation with the Court of Chancery today; and further, with the provision that the Court of Chancery entertain law jurisdiction, and law courts equitable jurisdiction wherever, in either case, it is necessary to do so in order to effectuate complete determination of a single controversy.

The fifth approach is what I might call status quo - the Court of Chancery exactly as now, appointments exactly as now made and, I think, the exclusiveness of jurisdiction now existing to be retained. No member of our committee advanced that point of view.

Now, Mr. Schnitzer will develop one approach, and I will follow with the other.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: I gather your presentation is in respect to submitting the various issues you support, and Mr. Schnitzer is appearing on -

MR. MORRIS M. SCHNITZER: My assignment is to develop the arguments in favor of total merger of the courts.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Number one?

MR. SCHNITZER: It may be number one, or it may be considered, in part, to be number two. The essence of it is -

VICE-CHAIRMAN: You will direct your remarks to one and two?

MR. SCHNITZER: In effect. At the outset, I would like to take a brief glance at history. Literally, the Court of Chancery came about as an historical accident in the development of English law. At that time the procedure by which the law court would entertain a case was for a litigant to seek a writ from the clerk of the King's Chancery at Westminster. In time these writs became so standardized in form that unless a litigant could perform a Procrustean operation and cut down his case or expand it to match the writ, he literally could have no relief from the court. So the practice developed to go to the King for royal relief because the law courts were inadequate to grant this relief.

Finally, the volume became such that the King's Chancellor, a part-time judicial officer, as well as an administrative and fiscal officer, having taken on the work of disposing of petitions, came to be


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