February 29, 2008
Following is a summary of actions taken at the February 29, 2008 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.
Ad Hoc Committee on MCLE
While acknowledging that there is opposition to MCLE within the bar, the Board recognized the likelihood of MCLE being adopted by the Court and approved a series of recommendations by the Committee that would:
- provide 30 credits over a 3-year period, averaging 10 credits annually
- offer a wide spectrum of law related activities for acceptance as credit-inducing activities, provided that each activity provider meets uniform, objective compliance standards established by the oversight MCLE Board
- provide that 50 minutes of a seminar be eligible for one credit of MCLE
- provide that attorneys teaching seminars, participating on panels or moderating programs receive triple credit the first time the program is presented in recognition of time spent in preparing materials, outline and presentations
- provide that an attorney's birthday be the date from which a year is measured
- provide that MCLE requirements apply uniformly to any individual with an active license to practice law in New Jersey, including judges, law professors, all private public sector practitioners and all in-house and corporate counsel, with exclusions for newly admitted attorneys subject to Skills and Methods requirements, attorneys serving in the military out-of-state, and attorneys who are either 70 years old or practicing law for 40 years or more cumulatively in any jurisdiction
- extend reciprocity to qualified CLE courses taken in other states
- provide that MCLE requirements and ethics violation-related requirements should be kept separate
- permit attorneys to choose which courses they would like to take on their own
- keep MCLE programs and certification courses separate, with certification remaining available to those attorneys who wish to distinguish themselves in a particular practice area
- provide approved CLE credit for certain non-legal courses
- establish a self-monitoring model where attorneys are responsible for submitting certifications outlining the courses taken and credits obtained each year
- provide that any costs affiliated with administering the program be funded by uniform fees to providers who wish to offer CLE programs in New Jersey
- require uniform, objective, minimum criteria that every potential CLE provider must meet before being approved
- provide a phase-in period for providers in the first year of implementation
- provide for the establishment of an oversight committee, with NJSBA representation
Report of Supreme Court Committee on Public Access to Court Records
The Board voted to submit to the Supreme Court Committee on Public Access to Court Records as general comments all of the responses submitted by NJSBA sections and committees in response to the committee's Report. Presenting the section and committee reports as general comments would show how the recommendations affect the various practice groups and inform the committee about privacy concerns in those areas.
The Board approved that the NJSBA petition the Appellate Division to participate in Olkusz v. Brown as an amicus party to argue for retroactivity of the statute prohibiting the practice of "stepping down" corporate auto insurance policies by insurance companies.
The Board voted to support the Amicus Committee recommendation not to participate in Wang v. Shi where the issue in the case is whether the plaintiff can pursue a claim of fraud against a dentist, with the potential for punitive damages, in the absence of any other malpractice-based claim.
The Board voted not to reconsider the bylaws requirement for sections to hold elections at the Annual Meeting.
The Board approved amendments to the Criminal Law Section bylaws, which were revised to comply with the new requirement mandating two general section meetings each year, with at least one of those meetings being held at the NJSBA Annual Meeting.
The Board approved amendments to the Family Law Section bylaws with the exception of section 8.8 regarding the New Jersey Family Lawyer Editorial Board and the appointment and oversight of board members.
The Board approved submitting an amendment to Article I of the Bylaws to the NJSBA membership for a vote. The amendment would provide a mechanism for the censure, expulsion or suspension of a member.
The Board approved submitting an amendment to Article II of the Bylaws to the NJSBA membership for a vote. The amendment would permit flexibility in the collection of dues, and would transition the NJSBA into a "rolling dues" cycle instead of an annual dues billing cycle applicable to all members.
The Board approved submitting amendments to Article III and Article X of the Bylaws to the NJSBA membership for a vote. The amendments would provide alternative voting methods, including electronic voting, for the Board of Trustees, and members of a section, committee or division.
Ms. Newsome appointed trustees Allen Etish, Donna duBeth Gardiner and Daniel Weiss to the New Jersey Lawyer Newspaper Board of Directors for three-year terms, and also appointed former NJSBA President Stuart A. Hoberman to a three-year term.
Audit Report - FY07
The Board approved the audit for FY07 prepared by JH Cohn.
The Board heard the following:
Conference on Gang Violence, Part II
The New Jersey State Bar Association, New Jersey State Bar Foundation, NJSBA Criminal Law Section and Institute for Continuing Legal Education will sponsor a conference on gang violence and prevention on March 12 at the New Jersey Law Center. The program will explore how New Jersey is addressing gang violence, prevention efforts and law enforcement responses. Junius Williams, Director of the Abbott Leadership Institute at Rutgers University in Newark, and the youngest National Bar Association President, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker. The discussion led by Ray Brown will include the following panelists: Cumberland County Prosecutor Ronald Casella, U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Sweeney Hayden, former Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, Deputy Public Defender Michael J. Marucci, former Newark Chief Municipal Judge Julien X. Neals, Aidan O'Connor from the U.S. Attorney's Office, First Assistant Attorney General John Vazquez, and Essex County Criminal Division Presiding Judge Donald Volkert. This event is open to the public, educators, lawyers, and community leaders.
Death Penalty Conference
The Board approved cosponsorship of a conference on April 14 at Seton Hall Law School entitled "Legislation, Litigation, Reflection and Repeal: The Legislative Abolition of the Death Penalty in New Jersey," also cosponsored by Seton Hall University Law School and Fordham univ ersity Law School, the program will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will feature Governor Jon Corzine; former New Jersey Chief Justices James Zazzali and Deborah Poritz; former Associate Justices James Coleman, Alan Handler, and Peter Verniero; Senators Nia Gill, Raymond Lesniak and Christopher "Kip" Bateman; former Senator Robert Martin and former Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo.
President Lynn Fontaine Newsome reported that the Court issued its opinion in the Opinion 710 case, affirming that the original Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics Opinion stands for the proposition that lawyers cannot engage in fraud during the course of real estate transactions.
Regarding State v. Chun, the Supreme Court has requested a supplemental briefing on the application of constitutional issues in State v. Crawford to the admissibility of certain documents in dwi cases.
The NJSBA has filed a Petition for Leave to Participate as an Amicus Curiae party in Brundage v. Estate of Carambio. The case involves an attorney's obligation, in the midst of a summary judgment motion and subsequent settlement negotiations, to inform the Court and his adversary about a similar case pending in the Appellate Division in which he was involved. (Following the meeting, the NJSBA received an Order granting its petition.)
ABA Mid-Year Meeting
At the American Bar Association's Mid Year Meeting from February 6 to the 12 in Los Angeles, the ABA House of Delegates endorsed all the resolutions cosponsored by the NJSBA, including:
10A - Urges federal, state, territorial and local legislative bodies and governmental agencies to develop and assess innovative long-term care programs such as the "Compact for Long-term Care," as a reasonable and fair solution to long-term care financing.
111A - Supports fee levels for immigration and naturalization benefits that are not so burdensome as to deter eligible applicants from filing and urges Congress and the executive branch to ensure that adequate funds are appropriated to enable U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to implement these fee levels.
111B - Supports the issuance of federal regulations that codify the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement National Detention Standards, and supports improvement, periodic review, and increased oversight of detention standards implementation in order to ensure that detained non-citizens and their families are treated humanely and have meaningful access to counsel and to the legal process.