The New Jersey State Bar Association’s Board of Trustees convened in October to take action on joining amicus cases, support pending legislation and other items.
On a recommendation from the NJSBA’s Right to Counsel Implementation Committee, the Board voted to seek participation as an amicus party in two cases pending in the Appellate Division that challenge Madden assignments. The cases – State v. Williams and State v. Andre – share similar facts, involving attorneys who were assigned to defend clients in matters outside of their expertise. In Williams, the attorney tapped to handle a contempt of domestic violence and pre-trial incarceration case is a sole practitioner in the areas of business law, human resource compliance and general compliance. The Andre case involves a commercial insurance attorney defending domestic violence contempt charges.
The NJSBA has long advocated for the elimination of the Madden system of assignments. In May, the state Supreme Court’s Working Group on Attorney Pro Bono Assignments agreed with the NJSBA’s recommendation that the Madden system is ineffective in matching attorneys with economically disadvantaged clients and should be replaced with a publicly funded system.
The Board also agreed to request that the New Jersey Law Review Commission research how to protect a litigants’ fundamental right to marry in cases involving the dissolution of Jewish marriages. The research will explore the court’s role in compelling the issuance of a Get – a Jewish decree of divorce – in instances where the parties disagree on ending the marriage.
The Board supported the following legislation with amendments: