The following is a summary of actions taken at the 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.
Hughes Compact: Dating to the tenure of Gov. Richard J. Hughes, the association has had an agreement to review, vet and interview candidates for the bench and county prosecutor positions. It is confidential and a key non-partisan step in the appointments process. Every governor in modern history since Hughes has renewed and reaffirmed the so-called Hughes Compact with the NJSBA. Under the compact, the association’s Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee (JPAC), which has representatives from each county, conducts the reviews and reports its findings to the Governor’s Office.
With the forthcoming change in administration, the association will begin working with Governor-Elect Phil Murphy to renew the compact. In an effort to ensure the profession and public benefit from a review process that is comprehensive, the association is seeking to restore a role in the process for county bar associations, as well as adding three seats that would be designated for under-represented groups, which will improve efforts to foster diversity and inclusion on the bench.
In addition to discussing the changes with the incoming administration, the trustees approved changing the association’s bylaws to reflect the changed composition of JPAC. Those changes will be subject to a vote of the membership this spring.
Name change comments: The association will provide comments to the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts on a proposal about how name changes are handled in court. The proposed change would put all instances where the name of a child is to be changed through the family division, not the law division. The association's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Section successfully urged the Board of Trustees to approve the suggestion that in cases where parents are in agreement about changing a child’s name, the decision should remain in the law division, rather than be subject to the judicial analysis and determination process used in family matters. Read the comments here.
Amicus: The trustees voted to seek friend-of-the-court status in two pending cases.
In MTK Food Services v. Sirius America Insurance Company, the association will wade into a dispute over the statute of limitations in an attorney malpractice case. The matter asks which state’s statute of limitations should apply, the six-year statute in New Jersey, or the two-year statute in Pennsylvania, since the case involves attorneys in both states. The association has made the passage of a two-year statute of limitations in professional malpractice cases a legislative priority. Read more about that advocacy here.
| The association agreed to argue in support of IMO Joint Letter Decision on ACPE 29-2016, UPL 12-2016 and CAA 65-2016. However, the matter has since been dismissed by the parties and no NJSBA action is required.
Supporting veterans: The trustees authorized the association to urge federal elected representatives to assign Veterans Justice Outreach Liaisons to the courts and jails in New Jersey. The liaisons would help address the needs of veterans who come into contact with the criminal justice system and are diverted to veterans’ diversionary programs. The association will ask that at least two more liaisons be added to the New Jersey complement.