New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

Remarks of Stuart A. Hoberman at the Reaffirmation of the Hughes Compact

May 15, 2006

It is an honor and pleasure for me to welcome Governor Jon Corzine to the New Jersey Law Center. I thank the Governor and all of you for joining us this morning.

This is a great day for the people of New Jersey, as well as for the State Bar Association, because the Governor has agreed to reaffirm the historic agreement, or Compact, between the state's chief executive and the State Bar Association.

The Compact calls for the Association to provide the Governor with an evaluation of the qualifications of prospective judges and county prosecutors. This independent and non-partisan evaluation has helped produce not only a judiciary that is second to none, but also a strong cadre of vigilant prosecutors.

In 1969, Governor Richard Hughes was the first Governor to enter into the Compact, at the request of the State Bar Association, and Governor Hughes' successors have wisely chosen to follow the course he charted.

It is worth noting that most states in America elect their judges. Unfortunately, a number of these states have produced judiciaries that are undistinguished, and certainly lacking in the intellectual capacity and progressive outlook that has marked the judiciary in New Jersey.

Our Governors have considered the appointment of judges, and prosecutors, one of their most important tasks, and over the years the care shown in making such appointments has helped ensure the continued strength and vitality of New Jersey's justice system.

Our system, marked by a commitment to the rule of law has long been the cornerstone of our democracy. One of the foundations of the rule of law is a competent and respected judiciary, and New Jersey is renowned for having one of the most capable and respected in the nation.

Many factors have contributed to the success of our court system. Governors with foresight have made quality appointments to the bench a priority, and judicial leaders have demanded superior performance and accountability from judges and staff. The backbone of the judiciary, has, and will always be the men and women who don their black robes everyday and preside over courtrooms across the state. Justice is literally in their hands. We trust our judges to wisely exercise the enormous powers conferred upon them, and we expect them to dispense justice fairly and dispassionately.

New Jersey's county prosecutors similarly enjoy great respect. They are leaders in the state's law enforcement structure. We rely upon their skill and judgment to help ensure public safety and effectively pursue wrongdoers. They make critical decisions everyday, dealing with events that deeply touch the lives of families and communities. The roll call of county prosecutors is long and distinguished and our state has benefited greatly because of their efforts. It is of obvious importance, therefore, that Governors must subject the women and men seeking the bench and the prosecutor's office to the strictest scrutiny.

I am proud that for over 30 years the New Jersey State Bar Association has assisted Governors in this most important process. We have done so through the efforts of our Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee. The members of the committee, lawyers from across the state, have done extraordinary work. Although the chairpersons and membership of the committee changes, its mission and commitment has never wavered. The committee is charged with investigating and evaluating potential nominees for the Supreme Court, Superior Court, Tax Court, and the County Prosecutor. It then provides the Governor with a recommendation regarding each of the nominee's qualifications.

The State Bar Association is proud to have served all former Governors since Richard Hughes. We are honored to be able to assist Governor Corzine, and we are delighted to have the Governor here today to reaffirm the Compact.

I am pleased to present to you, the Honorable Jon Corzine, Governor of the State of New Jersey.