Board of Trustee Report, April 21, 2017

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The following is a summary of actions taken at the April 21, 2017, 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.

Trustees: The meeting marked the start of a season of change as the association winds down its current year and looks ahead to starting with new leadership in May.

To fill a vacancy for a trustee representing Warren County, the trustees selected Thomas P. Fischer, of Broscious Fischer & Zaiter, P.C., in Washington. Fischer handles criminal defense and municipal court matters and has been active with the Warren County Bar Association, as well as serving on the state bar association’s Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee for six years. He will be sworn-in at the Annual Meeting and Convention in Atlantic City on May 18.

In addition to selecting Fischer as an association trustee, the board also tapped Kelly Bird, of Gibbons, P.C., to join the New Jersey State Bar Foundation’s trustee board where she will join other association appointees, including Kenneth Sharperson, Paulette Brown, Norberto Garcia, former association President Ralph J. Lamparello, Thomas J. Manzo, and Brian J. Neary.

NJSBA President Thomas H. Prol also recognized several trustees whose terms are expiring or who have left the board, including: Craig M. Aronow; Joan M. Burke; Michael S. Selvaggi; Richard M. Sevrin; James Uliano; Kenneth Sharperson; and Stephen Barry, as well as three members who have been appointed to the bench, such as Superior Court Judges Linda W. Eynon and Haekyoung Suh and Workers’ Compensation Judge Christopher Leitner.

Government affairs: In consideration of pending legislation, the association will support proposed revisions to New Jersey statutes regarding how and when liens can be instituted in estate tax matters, and will express concerns about A1808/S1194, involving liability and insurance coverage for medical malpractice actions.

Task forces created: The trustees approved the creation of two task forces that will begin work when President-Elect Robert B. Hille starts his tenure as president in May. One will examine cyber security issues in the profession, from data security to court rules. A second will evaluate, identify and review issues surrounding the practice of law by taking a proactive look at court rules, statutory regulations and federal issues with the goal of offering comprehensive proposals that will advance the administration of justice and ensure the bar has a voice in any changes.

Section news: The trustees agreed the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section should be allowed to change its bylaws to increase the number of section directors from six to 10. The board approved a request from the Land Use Law Section to participate in the Municipal Land Use Law Reform Steering Committee that will examine the state’s zoning statutes. And the trustees said the association should co-sponsor its annual ADR Day event, along with the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators.

Committee on Character amendments: The trustees agreed to review proposed amendments to the procedures used by the Court’s Committee on Character and Fitness when reviewing candidates to be admitted to practice in New Jersey. The amendments are aimed at streamlining and expediting the review process. It is the association’s understanding that the proposed amendments and any comments submitted will be further reviewed by an ad hoc committee appointed by the Court to examine the entire process.

Amicus: The association will offer its insights at an upcoming hearing before a special master assigned to handle questions about the Alcotest in the driving while intoxicated matter of State v. Cassidy. The New Jersey Supreme Court recently appointed a special master to handle questions about how the Alcotest was used and maintained. The association has been involved as amicus in litigation over the use of the device, which is used to test people suspected of being under the influence, dating back to the Chun case over a decade ago.

Rules proposal endorsed: To further its mission of fostering diversity and inclusion in the profession, the trustees backed a plan to request that the New Jersey Judiciary incorporate a provision into the Rules of Professional Conduct that would classify as professional misconduct a lawyer’s engagement in harassment or biased conduct in the practice of law. The proposal comes after the American Bar Association incorporated similar language into its Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which serve as the basis for the rules that govern attorney behavior across the country.

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