June 19, 2009
The following is a summary of actions taken at the June 19, 2009 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.
Justice Barry Albin's renomination hearing, updates on two Association projects and continued regional meetings with county and specialty bars were the highlights of President Allen Etish's report.
On June 22, Etish testified in support of Justice Albin's re-nomination at a hearing before the state Senate Judiciary Committee. Justice Albin earned the committee's approval that day. (Note: The full Senate granted Justice Albin tenure in a 1 a.m. June 26 vote.)
In other judicial matters, Etish reported there are 32 state court judicial vacancies. However, over a dozen state Superior Court judges and two Tax Court judges were up for consideration on June 22. (Note: In June 25 voting session, two Tax Court judges and 19 Superior Court judges won Senate approval.)
On June 30, the Association's Executive Committee is slated to have a meeting with the New Jersey Supreme Court and top staff of the Administrative Office of the Courts to discuss various issues.
At the federal level, the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary has begun its evaluation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Further, there are 73 federal judicial vacancies, including two on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. (Note: Federal District Judge Joseph Greenaway was recently nominated to fill Alito's Third Circuit seat.)
The video, "A Call to Service," created with a NJ State Bar Foundation grant to educate returning soldiers of legal rights and the NJSBA's Military Legal Assistance Program, is now being distributed. Copies have been sent to NJ National Guard officials at Ft. Dix and McGuire Air Force Base. At Ft. Dix, it is on a continuous loop at the Joint Readiness Center, where soldiers report for mobilization issues.
In a related development, Trustee Frank Hoerst presented a memento from New Jersey soldiers in thanks for the Association's assistance and support efforts.
Law Day contest
Gov. Jon Corzine invited the winners of the NJSBA's Law Day 2009 YouTube Video Contest to the 345th Birthday Salute to New Jersey. Winners were scheduled to be in attendance and to receive Governor's Certificates. Some winning videos were to be played at the June 24 event. The contest invited New Jersey middle and high school students to submit a short original video about President Abraham Lincoln's legacy. Students across the state created dozens of videos.
President-Elect Richard Steen was approved to serve as Etish's alternate at the ABA Annual Meeting. And by the end of the month, NJSBA will have held three regional bar meetings with county and specialty bar leaders around the state.
The roughly $5 million 2009-2010 budget was approved, with an amendment to add Fastcase as a free legal research tool for all members.
The trustees agreed to three new benefits. The state bar association will co-sponsor "Rainmaker Institute" programs that aim to help members develop skills to bring in business with the Essex, Monmouth and Camden county bars. The governing body also approved as new benefits, CourtTrax, a docket search tool, and Affiniscape, a custom payment program that helps attorneys accept credit cards.
Approval was granted to allow Construction Law Section to change dues, and Municipal Court Practice Section to reduce its quorum requirement to five members.
First Vice President Susan Feeney presented a proposal of the Long-Term Planning Committee to change the nominating committee structure and add seats to the Board of Trustees. The concepts are meant to streamline the governance process, said Feeney. President Etish said he would appoint a special committee to study the proposals.
"There is always room for improvement," he said.
Legal Services Review Committee
The board agreed to ask the Supreme Court to amend certain language in the Court rule governing what kind of public interest organizations limited license attorneys can work with to provide pro bono assistance. The trustees will request new language meant to direct corporate attorneys who are looking to find volunteer opportunities to the New Jersey State Bar Association's comprehensive Pro Bono website.
Etish reported the executive committee has begun interviewing lobbying firms to help advance the NJSBA's positions in Trenton. Further information will be provided at the July meeting.
The board took no position on S2881/A3968 that seeks to impose a temporary requirement on county treasurer to forward $300 from certain mortgage execution sales to provide funding for Legal Services of New Jersey.
Trustee Christina Hardman reported the Supreme Court committee on electronic filing has submitted a preliminary report to Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, and is awaiting further guidance.
In accordance with requirements associated with filing federal 990 forms, a document retention policy was established for the Association.