January 11, 2008
Following is a summary of actions taken at the January 11, 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.
President Lynn Fontaine Newsome reported that NJSBA member Jeffrey L. Gold presented oral argument on behalf of the NJSBA on January 7 in the State v. Chun case, which challenges the reliability of the use of the Alcotest machine in DUI cases. Camden County Trustee Arnold Fishman was the other NJSBA counsel in the case. The NJSBA urged the Court to find the machine reliable if certain technical conditions recommended by Special Master Judge Michael Patrick King were met. The Court's decision is expected in the near future.
On January 8, Somerset County Trustee Miles Winder III appeared on behalf of the NJSBA on Opinion 710 which sought to define the obligation of an attorney in real estate closings.
Also on January 8, NJSBA member Gerald Baker, who chairs the Auto Reparations Committee, appeared on behalf of the NJSBA in Jablonowska v. Suther. This case questioned whether a daughter who suffered emotional injuries watching her mother suffer as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident was subject to the verbal threshold under AICRA, or could sustain a separate common law cause of action.
ECBA/NJSBA Membership Drive
The Essex County Bar Association and the NJSBA are launching a joint membership drive. The kick-off event is scheduled for Wednesday, January 16 at the Historic Essex County Courthouse. As a pilot project, a 50 percent discount is being offered to members who join both organizations, valid through June 30, 2009.
The NJSBA will hold a Conference on Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments on March 4 at the Law Center to provide training and discussion for state and county JPAC members. Representatives from the AOC and the Governor's Office will participate, and each of the county bar's JPAC leaders will be invited along with the members of the NJSBA Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee.
Mandatory Continuing Legal Education
The NJSBA's Ad Hoc Committee on Mandatory Continuing Legal Education is in the process of finalizing its recommendations to the NJSBA Board of Trustees. The Board will review the Committee's recommendations and formulate a position that will be forwarded to the Supreme Court's Ad Hoc Committee on Legal Education.
The NJSBA has supported the judicial and prosecutor salary increases that have gone through the State Senate. (This legislation was signed by the Governor on Jan. 15.)
Salaries were also increased for county clerks, sheriffs, surrogates, and registers of deeds and mortgages.
2008 Judicial Administration Forum Funding
The Board approved a proposal by the Judicial Administration Committee to sponsor a Judicial Administration Forum planned for April 7 at the New Jersey Law Center. The topic for the forum will be "What Every Young Lawyer Needs to Know About the State and Federal Courthouse."
Young Lawyers Division - Wills for Heroes Program
The Board approved the Young Lawyers Division request to implement a Wills for Heroes Program in New Jersey to provide wills for first responders. Modeled on an ABA YLD partnership with the Wills for Heroes Foundation, a not-for-profit organization providing basic estate planning services to emergency first responders free of charge, the program will be launched in a one-day event at three locations. Participants will complete a questionnaire, a volunteer attorney (NJSBA YLD members) will examine the questionnaire and input the information into a laptop preloaded with appropriate software (donated by the ABA and their sponsors). The result includes a basic will, signed and finalized, before the participant leaves the site. The ABA has drafted forms with advice from NJ counsel, provides laptops for implementation, drafts all waivers and forms, etc. Certain answers will require the volunteer lawyer to advise the participant that a simple will is not appropriate for them and they will be directed to county and state bar referral sources to obtain private counsel.
NJSBA Policy Statement on Electronic Filing
The Board adopted a policy statement in support of the expansion of electronic filing to all divisions of the New Jersey Superior, Appellate and Supreme Courts. The statement urges the judiciary to undertake an effort to expand such filing to the General Equity courts.
Proposals Pending Before the ABA House of Delegates
The Board approved supporting three resolutions that will be considered at the Mid-Year Meeting of the American Bar Association in February:
New York State Bar Association Long-Term Care Resolution
The Board approved cosponsorship of the resolution of the New York State Bar Association on Long-Term Care, which urges states to develop innovative programs aimed at long-term care financing for the elderly and disabled.
ABA Commission on Immigration Resolutions
The Board approved cosponsorship of the ABA Commission on Immigration resolution that urges Congress to adopt reasonable fees for persons seeking immigration and naturalization benefits, and to further urge Congress to adequately fund the administration of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, so that costs are not passed along to applicants.
In addition, the Board approved cosponsorship of the ABA Commission on Immigration resolution supporting the issuance of federal regulations that codify detention standards promulgated by the Department of Homeland Security. The resolution also recommends that the standards be applicable in any facility where foreign nationals are detained. Further, the resolution would put the ABA on record in supporting periodic review of the standards and further improvements in provisions permitting regular independent inspection of facilities, access to legal materials, family visits, telephone access, prompt medical care, grievance procedures, and appropriate transfer regulations.
The NJSBA's position will be communicated to members of the New Jersey delegation in the ABA House of Delegates.