ASSEMBLY CONCURRENT RESOLUTION No. 82

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

213th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2008 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman JOHN E. ROONEY

District 39 (Bergen)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Proposes constitutional amendments establishing 4 year terms of offices and a new reappointment process for members of the judiciary; clarifies authority for establishing provisions governing judicial salaries and pensions.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


A Concurrent Resolution proposing amendments to Article VI, Section VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution of the State of New Jersey and adding a new Section IX thereto.

 

     Be It Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey (the Senate concurring):

 

     1.  The following proposed amendments to the Constitution of the State of New Jersey are hereby agreed to:

 

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

 

     a.  Amend Article VI, Section VI, paragraph 3 to read as follows:

     3.  The Justices of the Supreme Court and the Judges of the Superior Court shall hold their offices for [initial] terms of [7] 4 years and upon reappointment  [shall hold their offices during good behavior; provided however, that, upon the abolition of the juvenile and domestic relations courts or family court and county district courts as provided by law, the judges in office in those former courts who have acquired tenure and the Judges of the Superior Court who have acquired tenure as a judge in those former courts prior to appointment to the Superior Court, shall have tenure as Judges of the Superior Court. Judges of the juvenile and domestic relations courts or family court and county district courts who have not acquired tenure as a judge of those former courts shall hold their offices for the period of their respective terms which remain unexpired and shall acquire tenure upon reappointment to the Superior Court] by the Judicial Commission as provided in paragraph 4 of Article VI, Section IX and approved by the voters as provided in paragraph 5 of Article VI, Section IX.  Such justices and judges shall be retired upon attaining the age of 70 years.  Provisions for the [pensioning] salaries and pensions of the Justices of the Supreme Court and the Judges of the Superior Court shall be made by statutory law.

(cf.  Art.VI,  Sec.VI, par.3  as amended December 8, 1983)

     b.  Amend Article VI of the Constitution by the addition of the following section:

     Section IX

 

     1.  There is hereby established a Judicial Commission which shall consist of nine members, no more than five of whom shall be of the same political party, who shall serve for a term of five years and until the appointment and qualification of their successors.  Members of the Judicial Commission shall be appointed as follows: four by the Governor, no more than two of whom shall be of the same political party; one by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, one by the President of the Senate; one by the Senate Minority Leader; one by the Speaker of the General Assembly and one by the Assembly Minority Leader.  The person appointed by the Chief Justice shall be an attorney-at-law but none of the other members of the Commission shall be attorneys.

     2.  Of the persons initially appointed to the commission, two of the members appointed by the Governor and the member appointed by the Senate President shall serve five year terms;  the member appointed by the Chief Justice and the member appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly shall serve four year terms; the remaining two members appointed by the Governor shall serve three year terms; the member appointed by the Senate Minority Leader and the member appointed by the Assembly Minority Leader shall serve two year terms.

     3.  Any vacancy occurring in the membership of the commission shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment but for the unexpired term only; provided, however, that with regard to appointments by legislative leaders, if as the result of a vacancy on the commission a legislative leader would be required to appoint a member of the opposite political party, that appointment shall be made by the legislative leader in that house of the Legislature of the same party affiliation as the member of the commission whose vacancy is being filled.

     4.  A Justice of the Supreme Court or a Judge of the Superior Court shall be reappointed upon the affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the Judicial Commission.  The member appointed by the Chief Justice shall not be eligible to vote on the reappointment of any Chief Justice.

     5.  a.  Whenever a Justice of the Supreme Court or a Judge of the Superior Court has been reappointed by the Judicial Commission, the question of whether that justice or judge shall be retained in office shall be submitted by referendum to the people at the general election next following that reappointment.

     The question of whether a justice or judge should be retained in office shall be included on the ballot as follows:

  "Shall ........................  of the Supreme Court

              (insert name of justice)

       be retained in office?         Yes[]          No[]

       (Mark an X in the box you prefer)

       "Shall ........................  of the Superior Court

              (insert name of judge)

       be retained in office?         Yes[]          No[]

       (Mark an X in the box you prefer)

     b.  If a majority of those voting on the question vote against retaining a justice or judge in office, a vacancy shall exist as of the date the results of the election are certified by the Secretary of State.

     c.  If a majority of voters vote against retaining a justice or judge in office, that justice or judge shall not be eligible for any  other subsequent judicial position requiring nomination and appointment by the Governor.

     6.  No attorney-at-law or law firm shall, directly or indirectly, pay or contribute any money or thing of value to the retention campaign of a judge or justice.

 

     2.  When these proposed amendments  to the Constitution are finally agreed to pursuant to Article IX, paragraph 1 of the Constitution, they shall be submitted to the people at the next general election occurring more than three months after the final agreement and shall be published at least once in at least one newspaper of each county designated by the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly and the Secretary of State, not less than three months prior to the general election.

 

     3.  These proposed amendments to the Constitution shall be submitted to the people at that election in the following manner and form:

     There shall be printed on each official ballot to be used at the general election, the following:

     a.  In every municipality in which voting machines are not used, a legend which shall immediately precede the question, as follows:

     If you favor the proposition printed below make a cross (X), plus (+) or check (a) in the square opposite the word "Yes."  If you are opposed thereto make a cross (X), plus (+) or check (a)in the square opposite the word "No."

     b.  In every municipality the following question:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ESTABLISHMENT OF JUDICIAL COMMISSION AND RETENTION ELECTIONS FOR THE PURPOSE OF DETERMINING WHETHER JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT AND JUDGES OF THE SUPERIOR COURT SHALL BE REAPPOINTED; CLARIFICATION OF AUTHORITY FOR JUDICIAL SALARIES AND PENSIONS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YES

Shall the amendment to Article VI of the State Constitution, agreed to by the Legislature establishing a Judicial Commission and retention elections as the method for re-appointing Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the Superior Court and clarifying that provisions establishing judicial salaries and pensions are governed by statutory enactments, be approved?

 

 

INTERPRETIVE STATEMENT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NO

Presently, Supreme Court justices and Superior Court judges receive tenure, after serving an initial seven year term, upon reappointment by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.  This amendment would provide that Supreme

Court justices and Superior Court judges would serve four year terms and grants authority for determining whether a justice or judge should be reappointed by a nine-member bi-partisan Judicial Commission.  Under the amendment, when the commission votes to reappoint a justice or judge, the question of whether that justice or judge remains in office shall be submitted by referendum to the voters.  The amendment also clarifies that provisions for establishing judicial salaries and pensions are to be governed by statutes enacted through the legislative process.

 

SCHEDULE

 

     This constitutional amendment shall, if approved, take effect on January 1, next following the general election at which it was approved and shall be applicable to Supreme Court justices or Superior Court judges whose initial term expires on or after that date.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     Presently, Supreme Court justices and Superior Court judges serve an initial seven year term and receive tenure upon reappointment by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.  This concurrent resolution proposes a constitutional amendment providing that Supreme Court justices and Superior Court judges would have four year terms with no provision for tenure in office.

     In order to remove the reappointment of jurists from the political process, the proposed amendment would also establish a nine-member bi-partisan Judicial Commission which would be responsible for determining whether Supreme Court justices and Superior Court judges should be reappointed.  Four members of the Commission would be appointed by the Governor and one member each by the Chief Justice, by the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the Assembly and the minority leaders in each house of the Legislature.  The member appointed by the Chief Justice must be an attorney but none of the other members could be attorneys.  In order to be reappointed, the justice or judge would have to receive the affirmative vote of a majority of the commission.  The member appointed by the Chief Justice would not be eligible to vote on the reappointment of any Chief Justice.

     Under the proposed amendment, if the Judicial Commission reappoints a justice or judge, the question of whether that justice or judge would be retained in office would be submitted by referendum to the voters at the next general election.  If the voters do not approve the reappointment, the judge or justice would be out of office.  Attorneys would not be permitted to contribute to the campaign of any justice or judge seeking reappointment.

     In addition to eliminating tenure and establishing the Judicial Commission and retention referendums, the proposed constitutional amendment clarifies that the language in the Constitution indicating that provisions for the salaries and pensions of justices and judges shall be made "by law" means by statutory enactment and not court rule or judicial decision.