October 14, 2011
The following is a summary of actions taken at the Oct. 14, 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.
Election procedures: The state bar association’s Board of Trustees has recently formalized several new procedures to make certain future elections run smoothly and efficiently. In addition, the board considered some changes to the bylaws related to elections, which will be examined by the association’s Bylaws and Resolutions Committee and put to a vote of the membership at a future date.
The trustees took immediate action to formally adopt several procedures used during the spring election and added some new measures to guide future elections. The board confirmed that members should not serve on both the Nominating Committee and the Election Committee at the same time, to prevent any conflicts of interest. In addition, all members of the Election Committee would be required to remain neutral in an election.
The board adopted new procedures that would allow candidates running for office to be provided with a copy of the state bar association’s membership list including, traditional and email addresses, so long as candidates only use the information related to the campaign. It also agreed members would be able to opt-out of having their address information released. The Board also agreed that the viability of using a third-party group to conduct electronic elections should be explored.
Among the potential bylaw changes related to elections are: making clarifications that when there are multiple nominees for a position the challenger must challenge all nominees; that would clarify when a winner requires a majority or plurality or if a run-off election is necessary; that there should be an appeal process if a candidate does not agree with a decision of the Election Committee.
Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee: President Susan A. Feeney, President-Elect Kevin P. McCann, Executive Director Angela C. Scheck and William Greenberg, chair of JPAC, met with members of Gov. Chris Christie’s counsel office to discuss issues related to vetting judicial and prosecutorial candidates, including county bar association involvement.
County prosecutor offices: The trustees adopted a report of an association’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Prosecutors Study Commission making several recommendations about the organization and funding of county prosecutors’ offices. Chief among the recommendations was that the county offices should not be consolidated under the Attorney General’s Office. The report also suggested a fee be assessed to people who are convicted of a crime to help offset funding problems; that the state Division of Criminal Justice receive additional funding to handle criminal appeals; and any policy or legislation regarding outside lawyers hired to handle Criminal Justice Division appeals safeguard against conflicts of interest. The ad hoc committee made its recommendations in response to a Prosecutor Study Commission that Gov. Christie established earlier this year.
Amicus: For the first time, the state bar association will file a friend-of-the-court brief before the Council on Local Mandates. The state bar association will weigh in on a dispute involving the Allamuchy Township Board of Education, which is objecting to the recently adopted anti-bullying law, saying its implementation will cost money the district doesn’t have. The state bar supported the passage of the law and felt it was important to intervene before the council, since its decisions are not reviewable by a court.
Member discounts: State bar association members will receive deeper discounts for a trial period on New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education seminars and products at the start of the year. In addition, the trustees authorized the creation of a mobile application for smartphones that will allow customers to buy and watch continuing legal education (CLE) seminars, and track the CLE credits taken with the institute with their phones.
Government relations: The trustees opposed proposed rules and amendments to the Department of Banking and Insurance that have to do with personal injury protection benefits, dispute resolution and some fee schedules.
Minority judges reception: The board approved funding for the 10th annual reception honoring minority judges to be held by the association’s Diversity Committee.