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

Capitol Report

November 4, 2013 

This is a status report provided by the New Jersey State Bar Association on recently passed and pending legislation, regulations, gubernatorial nominations and/or appointments of interest to lawyers, as well as the involvement of the NJSBA as amicus in appellate court matters. To find out more, visit njsba.com. 

REMINDER: CHANGE TO ATTORNEY IDENTIFICATION NUMBER

Please note, there has been an update to the requirement of using attorney identification numbers. The new rule will be effective on Nov. 1.

All attorneys will be required to use their attorney identification number on the first page of any paper filed with the court. This requirement is the result of an amendment to Rule 1:41, adopted by the Supreme Court as part of a series of court rule amendments.

Attorney identification numbers can be found on the Court’s website:

http://www.njcourtsonline.com

·        Under the heading Legal select Attorney Index

·        Type in your Name and click Search

·        ID will be shown in blue on the left-hand side

LEGISLATIVE CALENDAR

The 215th Legislature, Second Annual Session, will hold the following meetings:

Nov. 7 at 12 p.m. – Senate Quorum

Nov. 14 at 12 p.m. – Senate Quorum

Nov. 25 at 2 p.m. – Senate Session

Dec. 5 at 12 p.m. – Senate Quorum

Dec. 6 at 12 p.m. – Senate Quorum

Dec. 12 at 12 p.m. – Senate Quorum

Dec. 16 at 12 p.m. – Senate Quorum

Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. – Senate Voting Session

The calendar is subject to change. For more information, please visit the Legislature’s website njleg.org.

ADDITIONAL ATTORNEY VOLUNTEERS NEEDED 

The New Jersey State Bar Association’s Military Legal Assistance Program continues to provide free legal advice to veterans who encounter legal issues before their deployment or upon their return home. Members of the military who have served in active duty or in the reserve units can receive assistance with family law, debtor-creditor issues and employment law matters. 

Any attorney who annually volunteers 25 or more hours of pro bono service can earn a Madden exemption through the Military Legal Assistance Program. To find out more please visit the state bar association’s website at njsba.com, or email mlap@njsba.com.

NOMINATIONS

The following is a list of nominations received from the Senate Judiciary Committee:

·        Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina, of Barrington, to be an associate justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court

·        Katherine Ungar, CPCU, of Mendham, to replace Vivian Altman, who resigned, to be a member of the New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority

·        Louis A. Rodrigez, PE, of Marlboro, to replace Ronald Louis Blackburn, who resigned, to be a member of the New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority

·        Roger Bruce Jacobs, of West Orange, to be a member of the New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority

·        Ridgeley G. Hutchinson, of Lambertville, to be a member of the New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority 

The following is a list of nominations received and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

·        Jean Edelman, of Great Falls, Virginia, to replace Joseph W. Devine, who resigned, to be a member of the Rowan University Board of Trustees

·        Louis S. Bezich, of Haddon Township, to be a member of the Rowan University-Rutgers Camden Board of Governors

·        Michellene Davis, of South Orange, to be a member of the Rowan University-Rutgers Camden Board of Governors

·        Honorable Jack Collins, of Pittsgrove, to be a member of the Rowan University-Rutgers Camden Board of Governors

GOVERNOR TAKES ACTION ON LEGISLATION

On Oct. 17, Governor Chris Christie took action on the following legislation:

BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW:

P.L.2013, JR-12 (PDF) Designates November of each year as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Awareness Month. On Aug. 19, the bill passed in the Senate (37-0) and was sent to the governor. On Oct. 16, the governor signed the bill into law. SJR-51 (Whelan)/AJR-50 (Conaway) (PDF) 

P.L.2013, JR-13 (PDF) Designates February as Turner Syndrome Awareness Month. On Aug. 19, the bill passed in the Senate (37-0) and was sent to the governor. On Oct. 16, the governor signed the bill into law. AJR-65 (S. Kean)/SJR-64 (Beck) (PDF) 

BILLS VETOED:

S-116 (Rice)/A-3595 (Tucker) (PDF) – CONDITIONAL - Establishes the Disparity in Treatment of Persons with Disabilities in Underrepresented Communities Commission in the Department of Community Affairs. On Aug. 19, the bill passed in the Senate (34-1) and was sent to the governor. On Oct. 17, the governor’s conditional veto was received in the Senate.

S-418 (Van Drew)/A-3169 (Albano) (PDF) - ABSOLUTE - Prohibits the sale of certain laser pointers that exceed a certain power output. On Aug. 19, the bill passed in the Senate (36-1) and was sent to the governor. On Oct. 17, the governor’s veto was received in the Senate. 

NJSBA LAME DUCK PRIORITY LEGISLATION

Below is a list of legislation on which the New Jersey State Bar Association has taken a position on, and which may be considered in the post-election (lame duck) session, which begins this week.

NJSBA-supported Legislation:

S-2215 (Sweeney)/A-2553 (Prieto) Professional Malpractice Insurance Reform: This bill requires certain civil actions against certain licensed persons to be brought within two years. On Oct. 1, 2012, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The NJSBA supports this legislation, which would improve the way professional malpractice disputes are addressed. It will level the playing field for all of the state’s professionals, including accountants, architects, engineers, contractors and others. Specifically, the bill requires that civil actions alleging professional malpractice be brought within two years, as is the case with civil actions generally, and eliminates certain attorney fees for bringing legal malpractice actions, currently permitted under Saffer v. Willoughby, 143 N.J. 256 (1996). The bill ensures that malpractice victims continue to have adequate recourse by preserving discovery rule protections contained in the rules of court for those who uncover acts that justify a claim after two years have expired.

Such changes will bring New Jersey law in line with neighboring states. Presently, professionals in the state are subject to disparate statutes of limitations. This is confusing, fundamentally unfair, and has negative implications for liability insurance coverage. New Jersey ranks among the costliest states to write certain professional malpractice policies. As noted, this bill seeks to address those issues, while protecting the rights of malpractice victims.

For more information on this bill, and the NJSBA’s efforts, please see page one of The Bar Report.