April 23, 2010
The following is a summary of actions taken at the April 23, 2010 meeting of the New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. This summary does not constitute official minutes.
Annual Meeting and Convention update
Registration for the Annual Meeting and Convention set for May 19 through 21 is at an all-time high, with a month to go. The exhibit hall is sold out and over 1,100 people have registered to attend.
After several weeks of discussions, on April 14, State Bar Association President Allen A. Etish signed the Hughes Compact with Gov. Chris Christie. The compact maintains the state bar association’s role in reviewing and vetting candidates for the state Superior and Supreme courts, as well as county prosecutor positions. This reaffirmation excludes a role for county bar associations. Our due diligence investigations have always relied on interviews with people from the judge’s home county, and the state bar association has asked for input from the counties for suggestions about how they can continue to provide input, without violating the spirit of the compact. A review of the JPAC manual is also underway to revise its policies to conform to the new compact.
In addition, the trustees approved a resolution in support of the independence of the state’s judges and judicial candidates. The resolution does not comment on the qualifications of a particular candidate, rather it urges the Governor and Senate, as a whole, to focus any evaluation of the fitness of a candidate on factors including integrity, legal ability, temperament, diligence, the ability to remain fair and impartial and a demonstrated understanding of the law. It further states “to ensure a fair and impartial judicial system it is imperative that judges be free to faithfully apply the law and make decisions on a reasoned basis, independent of politics, ideology and the sway of public opinion.” It was sent to Gov. Christie, legislative leaders and officials in the Judiciary, as well as the news media.
Attorney General Paula Dow
Members of the Association’s Executive Committee and staff met with Attorney General Dow to discuss a number of matters of mutual concern. The meeting covered issues including the AG’s pro bono program, which will be continued under the new administration, budget issues, and developments in the rollout of Alcotest stemming from the State v. Chun case.
The Board of Trustees voted to approve the appointment of five trustees to the New Jersey State Bar Foundation’s board. The members are: Steven Richman and Norberto Garcia were reappointed, and Julien Neals, corporation counsel for the city of Newark, and Paulette Brown, the chief diversity officer of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge. In other appointments, Former NJSBA President Ed McCreedy was appointed Chair of the IOLTA Board. And retired Judge Harvey Weissbard was Etish’s appointment to the Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission.
On Monday, Etish appeared in Trenton before Assembly Budget Committee to encourage lawmakers to address funding issues for Legal Services of New Jersey and the Office of the Public Defender and the Attorney General’s Office, which continues to lose attorneys to county prosecutor offices, which pay far higher salaries.
In other board action, the trustees voted
To support a proposed amendment to RPC 5.5 making it easier for out-of-state lawyers to represent parties in New Jersey ADR proceedings.
To provide comments to the Supreme Court on the proposed rule changes for amicus curiae motions and briefs. At the center of its comments, the Association will recommend a requirement that a proposed brief accompany an amicus curiae motion be eliminated.
To write to officials at Seton Hall University School of Law to encourage them to provide loan forgiveness for graduates who go to work in prosecutor offices or the Attorney General’s Office.
To urge Gov. Christie to maintain the State Board of Court Reporting.