October 18, 2013
NJSBA TRUSTEES REPORT
The following is a summary of actions taken at the Oct. 18, 2013 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.
Audit: The New Jersey State Bar Association has a strong financial base and is a thriving home to the state’s largest lawyers group and the leading continuing legal education organization, an auditor’s report showed. In the last fiscal year, the association earned a net income of nearly $235,000, resulting in $5 million cash on hand, according to the Withum, Smith + Brown audit of fiscal year 2013, which ended in June. The auditor found no issues of concern and expected to issue an unqualified opinion, the cleanest decision it can report.
Amicus: The trustees agreed to seek amicus status in two matters. Continuing its long-held belief that the civil union law is a failed experiment in discrimination and violates the New Jersey Constitution, the trustees agreed to be a friend-of-the-court in Garden State Equality v. Dow, on behalf of the plaintiffs, as it did in the earlier Lewis v. Harris marriage equality case. (The Christie administration later dropped the case.)
The trustees also approved stepping into a family matter, Maeker v. Ross, which focuses on the enforcement of unwritten palimony agreements.
Diversity strategic plan: The Board reviewed a strategic plan presented by the Diversity Committee to support inclusion and diversity as core principles of the association and legal community. The Diversity Committee was encouraged to continue to develop specific recommendations in the plan for continued review and approval by the Board.
Disciplinary budget: The trustees opposed a proposed 10 percent hike in the annual attorney assessment fee, which funds the $13 million attorney discipline budget. The board believes the hike may not be necessary if the agency reduces its reserves, which are at 18 percent, and achieves greater efficiencies through attrition. The trustees also noted that the number of attorneys used in projections should be reviewed.
Government relations: The trustees supported several pending bills, including A-2943/S-2077 to authorize an executor or administrator to take control of online accounts for a deceased person; S-123 the New Homebuyers Bill of Rights Act; A-4097/S-2786, which revises procedures for the issuance of an amended birth certificate for a person who has undergone a change in sex; and A-3835/S-2427 which revises penalties for certain drunk driving offenses, and includes the installation of an interlock device and the creation of restricted use driver’s license.
Opposition was favored for other measures, such as: A-1291 to clarify the informed-consent provision of the “Access to Medical Research Act” for people with developmental disabilities; A-3678 requiring some financial information of corporations be made public; and S-2885 which would establish judicial criteria for determining pretrial detention of people charged with first-degree crimes and creating statutory bail alternatives because it does not address constitutionality concerns.
Awards: The trustees supported the selection of the Family Law Section’s executive committee as recipients of this year’s Legislative Service Awards for work on domestic violence, alimony and other issues, dating to last year. They are Andrea Beth White, Patrick Judge Jr., Brian M. Schwartz, Jeralyn L. Lawrence, Amanda S. Trigg, Timothy F. McGoughran, Stephanie F. Hagan. President-Elect Paris P. Eliades will also be recognized for working with the group. Three retired jurists were selected to receive the Arthur T. Vanderbilt Award for Excellence in Judicial Administration. They are: former Justice Helen E. Hoens, retired Justice John E. Wallace Jr., and retired Judge Linda R. Feinberg.