New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 04/15/10
CONTACT:Kate Coscarelli
Director, Media Relations
732-937-7548

Gov. Chris Christie and New Jersey State Bar Association Reaffirm Hughes Compact

New Brunswick, NJ – Gov. Chris Christie and New Jersey State Bar Association President Allen A. Etish reaffirmed the Hughes Compact, regarding the vetting of judges and prosecutorial candidates, on April 14, 2010.

Statement of NJSBA President Allen A. Etish

"The New Jersey State Bar Association is honored Governor Chris Christie has asked us to continue to evaluate the qualifications of candidates for the Supreme Court of New Jersey, as well the Superior Court and county prosecutors. We respect the Governor’s vision to streamline the process, and we look forward to working with him toward our shared goal of ensuring the best candidates serve the residents of New Jersey.

Maintaining the quality and integrity of our judicial system, which has served as a model for the nation, is fundamental to our mission of fostering the fair administration of justice for the people of New Jersey. We have served in this capacity since 1969, when Governor Hughes created the Compact, and have provided an independent, non-partisan assessment of candidates being considered for these positions, with a goal of ensuring the continued quality of our judges and county prosecutors.

While the formal role of the county bar associations is not included in this reaffirmation of the Compact, our State Bar Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee members will seek input from county and specialty bar associations during the normal course of investigating a candidate’s qualifications. This approach will guarantee that the Governor will receive the best guidance on each candidate."

Background on the Hughes Compact

The Compact is a formal agreement between the governor and the state bar association. It is modeled after the American Bar Association’s agreement with the President of the United States. The agreement gives the state bar association the authority to confidentially interview and report on proposed nominees.

As part of the agreement, the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee, reviews nominees to the state tax and superior and Supreme courts, as well as county prosecutors. The committee members vote to determine whether a candidate is “qualified” or “not qualified.” That determination is shared with the governor’s office.

The review process is completely confidential, and committee members are required to sign a confidentiality agreement.

The only time the confidentiality is lifted is if the governor nominated a candidate the state bar association determined was “not qualified.” If that happens, a state bar association representative is permitted to appear and testify on their findings before the state Senate Judiciary Committee.

The New Jersey State Bar Association is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public and to reforming and improving the legal system. It encourages involvement in voluntary pro bono activities and supports the fair administration of justice. Incorporated in 1899, it is the state’s largest lawyers group. Visit the Association’s website at www.njsba.com.

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