N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 722
the incumbents of this day received their appointments upon the basis of the qualification to fulfill the demands of a part-time county judgeship and not those of the full-time judgeship in the court, the proper administration of which will be so vital to the strengthening of our judicial system.
Secondly, I believe that the varied duties of the common pleas judge may best be performed by judges who are residents of the county in which they sit and who by reason of their residency, have become familiar with the problems of the county, its political subdivisions and employees thereof, officials of the county and municipalities, and the local bar. It seems to me that with such a background they must have a better sense of public opinion and a greater appreciation of the significance of matters before them (especially criminal and election matters) than any judge from a distant county however conscientious and capable. Again, the practical consideration enters the picture. I am sure that many times in the exercise of their discretion in the countless cases in which discretion is almost unlimited, our county judges are guided by the long time knowledge they may have of the integrity (or lack of it) of officials, members of the bar, and others who are before them. Moreover, there are many cases which become perennials and oftentimes a county judge is better able to work out a solution to a given problem because of his acquaintance with what has gone before. This assistance he would not have if the train of events leading to the case before him had flowed from the action of several judges who had from time to time been assigned to the circuit.
To put it briefly, I believe that there is no substitute for the judicial taking of the public pulse on local matters by one who is a part of the community.
Lastly, I feel that the elevation of all county judges to the level of the State Court will be unnecessarily expensive. Surely, we may anticipate that the members of the State Court will receive salaries no smaller than those of our present circuit judges. As a matter of fact, I believe that they should be substantially higher. If all the common pleas judges are made State Court judges at the salaries which such office requires, will not the tax burden to the people be increased? And with what justification? Do we require that many more full time judges? I doubt it greatly. But if we do, certainly they should be selected from the ranks of our most capable lawyers.
I, therefore, respectfully submit that entity of the common pleas court should be preserved.
Respectfully yours,Gerald T. Foley
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