May 19, 2010
The following is a summary of actions taken at the May 19, 2010 meeting of the New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City. This summary does not constitute official minutes.
Attendance at the three-day conference shattered previous records. Nearly 2,000 judges, lawyers and law clerks took part in the event. Another 150 people attended the first annual Solo and Small Firm Conference, which was also held in Atlantic City.
The event also saw the departure of Allen A. Etish as the association’s president and installment of Richard H. Steen for a one-year term as its head. In addition, Susan A. Feeney became president-elect, Kevin P. McCann became first vice president, Ralph J. Lamparello became second vice president, Paris P. Eliades became treasurer, and Miles S. Winder III became secretary.
The meeting marked the departure of some veteran members of the board and welcomed new members.
The new members to the Board of Trustees are: Sandra Ayres (At-Large), Domenick Caruso (Passaic County), John E. Keefe Jr. (At-Large), William A. Krais (Morris County), D. Ryan Nussey (Salem County), Evelyn Padin (At-Large), Jeffrey S. Posta (Mercer County) and Jonathan W. Wolfe (Young Lawyers Division).
The Association remains committed to serving as an advocate for the preservation of an independent and impartial judiciary, and is co-sponsoring the June 22 symposium on Judicial Independence, along with several others.
In response to several county bar association resolutions regarding the Hughes Compact, the board approved replying to those via a letter from the president, with specific attention to clarifying misleading content of certain resolutions.
Going forward, meetings – either individually or in a group format – will be held with county bar associations to determine the best way to ensure those voices are heard during the vetting process.
In addition, President Steen, Charles Uliano, chair of the Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee, and Executive Director Angela C. Scheck met with Governor Counsel’s office to further discuss process issues related to the investigation and vetting of candidates for the bench and prosecutor positions.
In a unanimous voice vote, the board adopted a diversity statement. It reads:
"The NJSBA strives to promote and foster an inclusive and diverse bar association. The Association includes within the broad concept of diversity, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity and other under-represented groups such as government lawyers and in-house counsel. We are committed to ensuring that all of our members are given the opportunity to fully participate in leadership positions and all programs and services offered by the bar association and in all aspects of the legal profession.
The NJSBA is committed to ensuring that the individual differences of its members are understood, respected and appreciated. We recognize that leveraging individual difference is critically important to fulfilling the bar association’s mission and to its continued growth and success. The NJSBA has zero tolerance for and will promptly investigate and respond to hatred, intolerance, insensitivity, bigotry, threats of violence, harassment or discrimination and all other actions that are inconsistent with its efforts to be an inclusive and diverse bar association."
The board voted in favor of sending Gov. Chris Christie a letter in support of maintaining the Office of the Child Advocate. It voted to back, with amendments, the “New Jersey Fair Debt Collection Act.” The board also granted its support to the proposed Uniform Act on Trust Law.
Etish testified at the Supreme Court’s rules hearing in mid-May. In addition to a discussion of various rule changes, the members of the Court each spoke about the contributions of Justice John E. Wallace Jr.
Related to rules, Etish addressed amendments to RPC 7.3 that would expand the “30-day rule” to prohibit a lawyer from soliciting a prospective client for 30 days after any event that resulted in personal injury or death (the rule now is limited to contacts after a “mass disaster”). The NJSBA recommended that the 30-day rule apply to all municipal court and criminal matters.
Also on behalf of the Association, Posta spoke in support of amendments to RPC 5.5 that would make it easier for out-of-state lawyers to come into the state to handle private ADR matters.
And John Eastlack urged the Court not to adopt proposed amendments to R. 4:18-1 that would a) require document requests to be completed with within 35 days, and b) require a certificate of completeness be submitted with the documents. The NJSBA position is that the 35-day period is far too short.
The New Jersey State Bar Association has long-planned to hold its 2010 Mid-Year Meeting in Scottsdale. After a great deal of discussion, impassioned debate and soul-searching, the Board of Trustees earlier voted to move forward with those plans. The decision of the New Jersey State Bar Association was, in large part, a financial one.
Planning is now in the works to hold a symposium on immigration issues, including discussion of the racial profiling experience in New Jersey, and issues in family, labor and employment and others. Efforts are also being made to connect with community and other legal groups to determine what, if anything, members can do to address the issue while in Arizona.
The New Jersey State Bar Foundation honored retired Chief Justice James R. Zazzali and Judge Renee Weeks at its June 7 Medal of Honor reception.