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

Capitol Report

April 14, 2014

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 learn more, visit njsba.com

RECENT AMICUS ACTIVITY:

The New Jersey State Bar Association sometimes acts as amicus curiae in pending cases before New Jersey and federal courts where issues are believed to affect the legal profession or the system of justice.

In Re: Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics

Supreme Court Docket No.: 072810

This case questions whether an attorney, volunteering on behalf of Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, can provide pro bono legal services to a debtor in a “no-asset” Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding, if the attorney’s law firm represents a creditor of the debtor in an unrelated matter.

On Jan. 2, the New Jersey State Bar Association filed a motion to participate as amicus curiae along with a proposed brief in the Supreme Court of New Jersey. The brief was drafted by former NJSBA President Susan A. Feeney, Emily B. Goldberg, and Judah Skoff, all of McCarter & English, LLP. On April 1, Feeney presented oral argument before the Supreme Court justices on behalf of the New Jersey State Bar Association. 

Elizabeth Gnall v. James Gnall

Supreme Court Docket No.: 073321

This case questions the reversal of a limited duration alimony award and whether a 15-year marriage qualifies as short term, precluding an award of limited duration alimony.

On April 10, the New Jersey State Bar Association filed a motion to participate as amicus curiae along with a proposed brief in the Supreme Court of New Jersey. The brief was drafted by association Family Law Section Chair Brian M. Schwartz, Brian G. Paul and Derek M. Freed.

To read the NJSBA’s amicus curiae brief in this and other matters, visit the NJSBA’s website at njsba.com.

NJSBA HIGH PRIORITY: LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Alimony Reform

The New Jersey State Bar Association supports the formation of a commission to independently study the state of New Jersey’s alimony laws and make recommendations without a preordained result. The association also favors a measure (S-1808 (Bucco)/A-1649 (Giblin/Lampitt)) that provides practical and reasonable circumstances under which someone can request and receive a modification or termination of alimony, and also provides for considerations related to changes in economic circumstances, cohabitation and retirement of the parties. The association opposes an alternative bill (A-845 (Mainor)/S-488 (Cunningham)), which revises alimony laws, including the elimination of permanent alimony and establishing guidelines for the amount and duration of alimony awards. All of these proposals are currently awaiting action in the state Legislature.

For a complete copy of the association’s position on alimony reform, visit njsba.com.

 

Professional Malpractice

 

The New Jersey State Bar Association is working to advance an important piece of legislation that will benefit all professionals, including lawyers.

 

A-1254 (Prieto) would require that civil actions alleging professional malpractice be brought within two years, as is generally the case with other civil actions. Thus, it would standardize professional malpractice for lawyers, doctors, accountants, architects, engineers and all professionals, while protecting the rights of victims of malpractice by preserving the discovery rule for individuals who discover problems after two years.

 

Passage of this legislation would eliminate two of the primary sources that make New Jersey among the costliest states in the region to write malpractice policies by not only reducing the statute of limitations, but also eliminating certain attorney’s fees, so-called Saffer fees, for bringing malpractice claims. It would also bring New Jersey’s policies in line with neighboring states.

 

For more information on how to receive updates and assist the association’s efforts on moving this legislation forward, visit njsba.com.

 

ATTORNEY VOLUNTEERS NEEDED 

 

The New Jersey State Bar Association’s Military Legal Assistance Program provides 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. To find out more, visit njsba.com or email mlap@njsba.com.

 

NOMINATIONS:

 

On March 27, the following nominations were received and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 

To be a member of the Casino Control Commission:

Sharon Anne Harrington, of Bradley Beach

 

To be a member of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority:

Howard Kyle, of Northfield

Debra P. DiLorenzo, of Longport

 

To be a member of the Middlesex County Board of Taxation:

Rodman H. Kulp, of East Brunswick, to replace Victor P. DiLeo, resigned

Past issues of the Capitol Report