N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 680

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

(New Jersey Law Journal, June 12, 1947)

II Appellate Divisions

of statutes, the constitutional rights of individuals, the interpretation of statutes involving a large number of persons, questions of jurisdiction, a doubtful question of general law of wide application, or perhaps where there is a dissent in a Part or a certification of a question by a Part to the Court.

III A Unified Court at the Trial Level

The proposed revision of 1944 provided for a unified court system of state-wide jurisdiction at the trial level. The proposal grew out of a comprehensive study of our trial courts of original jurisdiction. The archaic character of these courts was responsible for the plan for a single court, then called the Superior Court (but preferably called the Supreme Court), divided into Law and Chancery Divisions. The Law Section was to have jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters at law, and the Chancery Section to have jurisdiction in equity and probate causes. The reasons for such a court are as pressing now as they were then.

In the Journal editorials of May 8, 15 and 221 See pages 665 to 667, 667 to 670, and 670 to 671, supra. the basic reasons for such a unified court mechanism were outlined and reiterated. The only phase of such a system which may be met with objection at the Convention is the absorption of the Court of Chancery and its elimination as a separate and independent tribunal. But emotions and prejudices aside, there is no real reason for the perpetuation of its individuality. In a modern judicial system, where the objective is to provide for full, adequate and expeditious justice for all litigants, its jurisdictional idiosyncrasies and limitations should be ended. The historical accident which gave birth to the court should not now be made a blight on the path of progress.

In the editorial of May 15 a series of deficiencies in the present jurisdiction of the court were alluded to. These deficiencies are not matters of argument, they are matters of established fact and unanswerable, except through the establishment of an equity branch of a unified court.

All probate matters are peculiarly related to the work of a Chancery Division. At present the vice-ordinaries and the Orphans' Court judges have much concurrent and some conflicting jurisdiction over such matters. In the suggested Probate Division there will be one tribunal of state-wide jurisdiction presided over by judges who will be or become specialists in that field, and everyone will know where to go and how to obtain the desired relief.

On the law side of the unified court, civil and criminal causes would be entertained. The disposition of criminal causes presents no particular problem. No one seriously objects to a blending of Oyer and Terminer, Quarter Sessions, General Sessions and Special

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