New Jersey State Bar Association
Board of Trustees Report
December 15, 2020
This is a summary of action taken at the December 15 meeting of the New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees. This meeting was held via Zoom, due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. This summary does not constitute official minutes.
Government affairs: The trustees voted to support the passage of S-2586/A-4369, which would implement several of the sentencing recommendations of the Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission to eliminate certain mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment. The importance of this bill has resonated with NJSBA members, especially with the NJSBA Commission on Racial Equity in the Law, which reviews initiatives with an eye towards removing systemic bias and racism in the law. Mandatory minimum sentencing policies have a disproportionate impact on communities of color and contribute to New Jersey having the highest disparity in the nation when comparing the Black and white incarceration rate.
The Trustees also approved the Legislative Committee recommendation to support the New Jersey Law Review Commission Report on temporary disability benefits to certain volunteers and other workers.
Destination policy updated: The trustees adopted a recommended policy from the Meeting Arrangements and Program Committee to ensure certain factors are considered when choosing a meeting site, including: the destination’s educational, popularity/attractiveness or cultural value; barriers that may exclude NJSBA members from attending or participating, including laws or policies that are discriminatory or exclusionary; anticipated cost to hold/attend; financial impact of holding/not holding the event; NJSBA members’ safety; availability of adequate hotel/meeting/banquet space; ease of travel to the destination, including distance from a major airport and availability, frequency and cost of direct flights; and recreational facilities and activities for multi-day events.
Municipal Court recommendations: The Trustees adopted the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Municipal Court Reopening Committee. The recommendations are meant to guide best practices in the municipal courts as they remain in flux between live and virtual proceedings. The recommendations include that: municipal courts should operate in a uniform manner and that municipal court administrators and prosecutors should have less direct contact with defendants, rather than defense counsel; that safety protocols be published so attorneys and the public know what to expect from live proceedings; all adjournments should be noted for the record to preserve speedy trial rights of defendants; and that DUI trials and motions to suppress should be given priority. The Association will convey the findings to the Judiciary and other entities necessary.
Mid-Year Meeting: Due to increasing COVID-19 cases nationwide, especially in California, the Board determined it was not feasible to hold the 2020 Mid-Year Meeting in Napa Valley in March.