Friday, April 4, 2014

Judicial independence Threatened - NJ State Bar Public hearings

NJ's judiciary needs reform, bar association task force is told - News -


New Jersey’s judicial branch is under attack and in need of reform and protection, leaders in the state’s legal community told a task force studying the court system’s independence Tuesday.

Judges who must give independent-minded opinions are under political attack, petty political battles are slowing the judicial nomination process and the public must be educated about the courts, individuals told the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Task Force on Judicial Independence.

The task force plans to produce a report with recommendations on preserving judicial independence after hearing from the public. The first of the task force’s four public hearings was held Tuesday in New Brunswick.

“We are in the midst of a time like no other in the history of our modern state,” said Ralph Lamparello, president of the New Jersey Bar Association. “There is a concerted effort among the executive and legislative branches of government to politicize the judicial branch.”

He added, “Judges and justices who have followed the law and the facts of a case to reach an opinion have undergone personal attack, time and time again, by our Governor.”

The reappointment of Supreme Court justices has traditionally been almost automatic. That pattern was interrupted early in Governor Christie’s first term when he decided to replace John Wallace, a Democrat. That seat is still open.

Many speakers, who included judges, practicing lawyers and former state Chief Justice Deborah Poritz, said the public needed to be educated about the importance of the courts.
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