NJSBA Trustees Report
The following is a summary of actions taken at the May 14, 2014, meeting of the New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees at the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. This summary does not constitute official minutes.
Judicial independence: The New Jersey State Bar Association’s governing body unanimously added language to the organization’s mission statement to fortify its commitment to speaking out on the importance of judicial independence.
As the leading voice in addressing the ongoing threats to the independence of the Judiciary, the association revised the mission statement to ensure it remains dedicated to the issue in the future.
“A fair and independent judicial branch is a paramount concern of this association and in updating our mission statement, we stand firm in ensuring the voices of our over 18,000 members will always be the protectors of our Judiciary,” said Paris P. Eliades and Ralph J. Lamparello, the current and immediate past presidents of the association, in a joint statement.
The NJSBA’s mission now reads:
- To serve, protect, foster and promote the personal and professional interests of its members.
- To serve as the voice of New Jersey attorneys to other organizations, governmental entities and the public with regard to the law, legal profession and legal system.
- To promote access to the justice system, fairness in its administration, and the independence and integrity of the judicial branch.
- To encourage participation in voluntary pro bono activities.
- To foster professionalism and pride in the profession and the NJSBA.
- To provide educational opportunities to New Jersey attorneys to enhance the quality of legal services and the practice of law.
- To provide education to the New Jersey public to enhance awareness of the legal profession and legal system.
Amicus: The New Jersey State Bar Association will seek amicus status in a pending matter before the Supreme Court. The case, Innes v. Lesnevich & Marzano-Lesnevich, focuses on an attorney’s duty to a third-party non-client. The matter arises from a legal malpractice matter that involves the release of a passport to one of the parents involved in contentious matrimonial proceedings. The association will focus its arguments on the extension of Saffer fees to non-clients and the standards experts should be held to in legal malpractice cases.
Legislation: The trustees voted to oppose, with low priority, A-2025, which grants immunity from liability for certain professional services rendered during emergencies.
Bail reform: The NJSBA trustees supported recommendations of the Supreme Court’s Joint Committee on Criminal Justice related to bail reform and speedy trial revisions that are part of a holistic package. The NJSBA supports most of the recommendations contained in the report, but urges that the success of the proposed reforms is dependent upon a commitment to and simultaneous enactment of a constitutional amendment providing for pretrial detention and implementing legislation that includes a speedy trial statute, as well as a commitment to full funding for the courts, the Office of Public Defender, and the county prosecutor offices.
New trustees: Six new trustees joined the NJSBA’s governing body. They are:
- Milagros Camacho, of Camacho Gardner & Associates, as an at-large trustee,
- Craig J. Hubert, of Szaferman Lakind Blumstein & Blader, as a Mercer County trustee,
- Jeffrey Neu, of Kuzas Neu, a Young Lawyers Division trustee,
- Edward J. O’Donnell, of Newsome O’Donnell, an Essex County trustee,
- Cindy N. Vogelman, of Chasan Leyner & Lamparello, a Hudson County trustee, and
- David B. Wolfe, of Skoloff & Wolfe, a Taxation Law Section and Membership and Public Relations Committee trustee.
Disability pledge: The trustees adopted a Disability Diversity Pledge that affirms the association’s commitment to diversity in the legal profession, including diversity and accessibility regarding individuals with mental, physical and sensory disabilities.
Mid-Year Meeting: The Mid-Year Meeting is a financially self-sustaining and valuable member benefit, the trustees found. The trustees supported a report from the Meeting Arrangements and Program Committee that recommended the continuation of the event. Members and sponsors report that the event results in meaningful business relationships and business development opportunities and has additional positive aspects. The association is mindful that future destinations should be reviewed with consideration given to the ease and cost of travel as well as the availability of meaningful cultural and educational events. The trustees reviewed the issue following a resolution adopted at the General Council’s annual meeting.
Taxation rules: The trustees agreed to comment on the Division of Taxation regarding proposed new rules addressing the assessment of civil fraud penalties, specifically urging that the division provide additional guidance as to the actions that would be considered civil fraud and other issues.