N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 677

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

(New Jersey Law Journal, June 5, 1947)

terms and tenure of their office is provided for by statutes (N.J.S.A. 2:5-4).

Obviously, a more uniform and consistent pattern for the appointment and tenure of the judiciary is necessary. Revisions proposed in 1942 and 1944 provide for the appointment of all the judiciary in courts whose jurisdiction extends to more than one municipality, by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, leaving it to the Legislature to provide for all other judicial appointments and tenure by uniform laws.

Under the 1944 proposed revision, an appellate court is to be established, known as the Supreme Court, the justices of this court being chosen from the justices of the Superior Court, these latter being required to be attorneys-at-law of at least ten years' standing. The Chief Justice and the justices of the Supreme Court (appellate court) are to hold office during good behavior; justices of the Superior Court (court of original jurisdiction) are to hold office for seven years on the first appointment and on reappointment for good behavior - the question of good behavior of the Supreme Court justices being triable by the Senate and that of the justices of the Superior Court being triable by the Supreme Court. The proposed revisions (1942 and 1944) provided that judges shall not engage in the practice of law or other gainful occupation during their continuance in office. (Obviously, the phrase "gainful occupation" can be a source of difficulty since it may cover activities which may not be at all in conflict with judicial duties.)

With respect to age limitations for members of the judicial system, during the 19th Century an age limit of 60 was often suggested and embodied in state constitutions. With the increased longevity of the American people an age limit of 70 is now customary. Provision for pension after the age of 70 may be made directly by the Constitution or such power may be left to the Legislature. The New York Constitution, for instance, provides for age limit at 70 and by legislative action provision is made for compensation after retirement.

The revision proposed in 1944 provides for age limit of 70, giving the Chief Justice the power to assign retiring justices to temporary service as need may appear.

If the Constitutional Convention were to sit for many, many months it may never be able to develop a formula for the appointment, tenure, powers, privileges and retirement of justices that could meet all criticism. However, with the present Constitution lacking any consistent pattern, it is suggested that the proposed revisions of 1942 and 1944 point to a more uniform and coherent method of appointment, tenure and retirement.

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