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

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Letter to the Editor on Judicial Criticism

The following was sent to the Gannett Newspaper Group in response to a June 19 editorial by Bob Ingles:

Dear Editor:

I write to object to the belligerent and uninformed column authored by Bob Ingle in the June 19 issue of your newspaper. In the column, Mr. Ingle criticized the Supreme Court for its recent decision interpreting an auto insurance statute (DiProspero v. Penn) and concluded that the Justices were “kowtowing to their ambulance chasing brethren.” Had Mr. Ingle taken the time to read the Court’s opinion he would have realized that the opinion does not permit an injured party to sue for pain and suffering despite having an insurance policy that limits the right to sue. Under New Jersey law such suits are permissible only if the injuries sustained fall within specified categories. The opinion was more narrowly focused; it considered whether such a party had to meet an additional hurdle—proving that the injury caused a serious life-impacting condition. The Court concluded that the Legislature never wrote that requirement into the statute and therefore it could not apply.

Thus, the problem, if any, lies in legislative draftsmanship. The Supreme Court did not rewrite the law; it only interpreted what the Legislature had enacted.

Aside from this significant factual error, there is the additional problem of Mr. Ingle’s pejorative characterization of the Court. That he disagrees with its decision is one thing, though, as noted, he did not understand it. But to refer to the Justices as “clowns” and “political hacks” are cheap shots designed solely to demean those with whom Mr. Ingle disagrees. It panders rather than enlightens, and does not advance any meaningful viewpoint, which is what editorialists and commentators should do.

The New Jersey Supreme Court is one of the most respected in the nation, and for good reason. Among other things, through its interpretation of the New Jersey Constitution, it protects people like Mr. Ingle, even when they say things that are misinformed, misleading and mean-spirited.

Very truly yours,

Stuart A. Hoberman, Esq.

President, New Jersey State Bar Association