March 25, 2011
The following is a summary of actions taken at the March. 25, 2011 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.
Budget: The board gave preliminary approval to a proposed $5.26 million budget for the New Jersey State Bar Association’s coming fiscal year. The proposed budget includes belt-tightening, while still investing in infrastructure upgrades and producing conventions and events that keep its members up-to-date on the developments in the law. Officials hope to increase revenues from meetings, especially at the large conventions and regular continuing legal education seminars, and reduce expenses by over $150,000 through reductions in expenses related to postage, copying, telephones, salaries, expenses at conventions and other cuts. The budget is essentially break-even, with a year-end net income of $5,000.
The budget will be published in the New Jersey Law Journal in the coming weeks, and a public hearing will be held at the Annual Meeting and Convention in May. The board will take a final vote on the budget at its meeting in June.
Election issues: The board addressed several matters related to the election for NJSBA secretary and an at-large Board of Trustees seat.
Mailing lists: As it has in previous elections, the board voted to make a traditional mailing list of the association’s members available to the candidates running for office. All candidates will be required to sign a disclaimer that the addresses will not be sold and will only be used for election purposes. The board declined to make e-mail addresses available to the candidates, citing potential legal- and business-related issues, including potential violations of CAN-SPAM Act laws.
As an alterative, the board said the state bar association would send four e-mails per contested office to the membership. Each message will contain information from each candidate.
Listservs: The board also voted to continue a prohibition on using state bar association listservs for electioneering. In lieu of that, the board agreed to create a stand-alone listserv, open to the membership, to serve as a forum for people to discuss election issues. E-mail about the election listserv will be sent to state bar members shortly.
Endorsements: Current officers, trustees, and section, committee and division chairs and officers can endorse candidates running in the election, in their individual capacity only. The board determined that members who hold these leadership positions within the association could not use their correlating titles in promoting or endorsing candidates.
Debate: Approval was granted for the New Jersey Law Center to be used as a forum for a candidate debate and for the association to sponsor an electronic debate. The terms and details of those debates will be worked out by the candidates and supervised by the Election Committee.
Ballots: An accounting company, Wiss & Co., is being retained to count the returned election ballots, and issue a report of their findings.
General information: In addition, the board charged the Election Committee with collecting biographical statements from each candidate that will accompany the ballots that will be mailed to the entire membership. The state bar association will publish information about each of the candidates and their positions on issues in the Bar Report and that information will also be available on the NJSBA website.
Supreme Court Committee rules reports: The board endorsed comments and recommendations related to the annual rules reports. The comments will be sent to the Judiciary for consideration.
Municipal Court Practice – The board opposed changes to the municipal court discovery and inspection rules that would allow a court to deny a supplemental demand for discovery because the municipality or state police say it will cost too much money. Rather, the trustees approved advocating a rule that gives courts jurisdiction to determine the reasonableness of the cost imposed on any discovery.
Family Law – Approval was granted to require the clerk of the Appellate Division to send a notice of appeal to the Surrogate’s Office in adoption cases.
Criminal Law – The trustees agreed with rule changes in the criminal courts that address electronic discovery of grand jury proceedings; review of the verdict sheet; post-conviction relief and amendments to the plea form.
Dispute Resolution – The board endorsed the proposed changes in the Report of the CDR Committee about New Jersey’s presumptive mediation program. The changes address concerns about the labor-intensive involvement of court staff in the program and reducing costs while preserving key elements of the program.
Direct solicitation: Board members voted to pursue a change to the Rules of Professional Conduct regarding lawyers’ direct solicitation of clients. The proposed rule amendment suggests a 30-day ban where death or bodily injury occurs and imposes a plethora of other responsibilities on any lawyer seeking to directly solicit clients through the mail.
New committee: A Privacy Law Committee was approved by the board. It is meant to address a wide spectrum of legal issues from contract law, to constitutional law, to criminal law, torts and international law.
Amicus: The trustees voted to participate in Gere v. Louis, a malpractice case against two attorneys. In the case, the plaintiff alleged she did not receive her fair percentage of a business in a divorce settlement because of action, or inaction, by the attorneys involved. The state bar association will advocate that once a party knowingly and voluntarily settles a case, that party cannot later bring a malpractice action seeking additional remedies beyond the settlement.
The board also approved taking a position in favor of the second restatement of trusts in Tannen v. Tannen in its friend-of-the-court brief. The case involves a divorcing couple where the divorcing wife is a beneficiary of a trust from her parents. The question at the center of the case is whether the trust can be considered in alimony and child support calculations.
Annual Meeting: Registration for the NJSBA Annual Meeting and Convention is live. Updates on programming and events are posted regularly at the NJSBA website: www.njsba.com/calendar_events/index.cfm?fuseaction=annual_mtg
Mid-Year Meeting 2011: Hotel, registration and programming information became available live on St. Patrick’s Day – the day before President-Elect Susan Feeney served as Deputy Grand Marshall of the Newark St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Members can register and access hotel information at: www.njsba.com/calendar_events/mid_year_meeting/index.cfm?fuseaction=midyear_mtg
Mid-Year Meeting 2012: The board approved a date change for the 2012 event, which is to be held Oct. 24-28 in Las Vegas, to avoid conflicts with the general election and take advantage of the opportunity to book rooms at a reduced rate. The meeting will be held at Wynn Las Vegas.
CLE: The board approved an agreement with Classroom 24-7 to begin offering live webcasts from the New Jersey Law Center and an electronic library of CLE courses. This agreement will allow the NJSBA, New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education and the New Jersey State Bar Foundation to make programs available to state bar members, others in the legal profession and the public via their respective websites.
Hudson County State Bar Night is March 30 in Jersey City.
Professionalism day: Judge Glenn A. Grant has advised that the Judicial Council has agreed that Professionalism Day will be held on October 19 at courthouses in each county. The New Jersey Commission on Professionalism will work with the county bar associations and the judiciary in planning the event. Preliminary plans call for a two-credit ethics/professionalism seminar in each location conducted by a bench-bar panel.