NJSBA Board of Trustees Report
April 21, 2023
Note: This does not constitute official minutes
Mental health diversion committee: On a recommendation from NJSBA President-Elect Timothy F. McGoughran, the Board established an ad hoc committee to create uniformity in mental health diversionary programs across the state. The committee, a key focus of McGoughran’s upcoming term as president, aims to help individuals whose involvement with the courts and legal system can be traced to mental health issues. It will work with the Judiciary to study existing mental health diversionary programs, determine why they are successful and make recommendations on how to coordinate and expand them to every courthouse.
Decisis: The Board approved Decicis as new member benefit to replace Fastcase on July 1. Decisis, powered by LexisNexis, is a legal research tool that offers advanced features to search cases, statutes, regulations and other legal resources. The tool will save members $1,750 annually by providing access to a range of opinions, codes and regulations, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions, state Supreme Court and Appellate Court decisions from all 50 states, along with New Jersey statutes and Court Rules.
Member Assistance Program: The Board also approved a contract with Charles Nechtem Associates to provide personal mental health counseling services as a new member benefit. The Member Assistance Program (MAP) offers 24/7 access to mental health counseling, mental health referrals and a library of more than 25,000 self-help resources. The program aims to ease the difficult proposition attorneys face in accessing quality mental health care. Many are forced to either wait months for an appointment with a practitioner who accepts the right insurance, or pay out-of-pocket to expedite the process. Along with the 24/7 phone access, MAP also offers up to three free face-to-face counseling sessions for all members and those in their household per issue they face. Phone, email and virtual counseling sessions and consultations are unlimited. The service is confidential and free for members, NJSBA staff and their eligible household members. It launches on June 1.
Evidence Rule 608: On a recommendation by the NJSBA Family Law Section, the Board voted to send a proposal for the Judiciary to consider amending Evidence Rule 608. The proposed change would allow for examination into specific instances of unlawful conduct to attack a witness’s credibility in the Family Part, as is allowed in criminal matters. The proposal includes an exception in cases involving Title IX or 30.
Child Support Guidelines: The Board approved a recommendation that the state Supreme Court end the practice of charging parents for the cost of foster care by the assignment of child support payments to the state, and consider how the process can be streamlined in child welfare proceedings. The recommendation, submitted by the Child Welfare Law Section, follows guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help create more equitable child support and child welfare programs.
Foundation Trustees: The trustees agreed to reappoint the existing slate of NJSBA representatives to the New Jersey State Bar Foundation Board of Trustees – Kelly Ann Bird of Gibbons P.C.; Craig Compoli and NJSBA Trustee Alexandra Gallo of O’Toole Scrivo LLC; Katrina Homel, legal counsel for the New Jersey School Boards Association; Mikeisha Anderson Jones, global chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for Milbank; NJSBA Trustee Thomas Manzo of Szaferman, Lakind, Blumstein & Blader, P.C.; and Loren Pierce of Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C.
Legislation: The Board supported the following bills in the state Legislature:
A3836 Stanley – a bill that requires a motor vehicle lease agreement to include an additional disclosure identifying all fees that may apply at the end of a lease agreement. The Board supported the bill with amendments that would provide additional protections for consumers who enter into motor vehicle lease agreements.
A4723 McKeon / S2740 Codey – a measure that requires a motor vehicle dealer to delete personal information from motor vehicle computer system prior to resale or lease. The Board supported the bill with amendments to add a mechanism that protects consumer data.
S54 Corrado / A5061 Matsikoudis – a bill that establishes minimum level of domestic violence and sexual assault training for judges and judicial personnel.
S2081 Greenstein / A3147 DeAngelo – a measure that expands the powers and duties of state police in missing person cases to issue administrative subpoenas and seek subpoenas, warrants and court orders concerning any case involving a high-risk missing person.
A4444 Jasey / A4471 Flynn / S709 Codey – a bill that upgrades assault charges against sports officials to aggravated assault if committed while the official is engaged in duties, is traveling to or from a sports event or because of the person’s status as a sports official.
S3346 Sarlo / A5035 Speight – a measure that upgrades burglary of a residence to a second-degree crime. The Board supported the bill, but took no position on a provision that would qualify the crime under the No Early Release Act.