NJSBA Board of Trustees Report
July 16, 2021
Note: This report does not constitute official minutes.
New trustees: The trustees approved the appointments of Thomas Manzo, who will fill a vacant seat on the Board representing a section or committee on behalf of the Civil Trial Bar Section, and Frank DeRienzo, who will serve as the Young Lawyers Division trustee for the remainder of an unexpired term. Manzo was sworn-in at the meeting and DeRienzo is expected to be installed as a trustee in September. Both have been appointed to fill vacancies.
Amicus: The Board agreed to seek amicus curiae status in Moynihan v. Lynch, a case on appeal in the state Supreme Court. The matter focuses on the enforceability of a written palimony agreement where a notarized agreement was unenforceable because the parties had not sought legal advice. The NJSBA will argue that the Court has the equitable power to enforce agreements when to do otherwise would be unjust, and that while involvement of legal counsel should always be encouraged, when reviewing the totality of circumstances surrounding an agreement, the lack of such involvement should not render an otherwise valid agreement unenforceable.
The Board also agreed to be an amicus party in In re Wade and In re Lucid, a pair of cases that relate to findings of the Disciplinary Review Board and attorney discipline matters where there is a recommendation to disbar the parties for misappropriation of funds due to inadequate record keeping. The NJSBA will ask the Court to address the automatic disbarment rule as per In re Wilson, and clarify the standard and criteria that should be used to address knowing misappropriation charges. The Board also approved the creation of an ad hoc committee to examine how New Jersey practices fit into the national picture and if there are recommendations that should be considered in the Garden State.
Parenting coordinators: The Board adopted the Family Law Section’s Parenting Coordinator Task Force Report and agreed to send it, along with a proposed Court Rule on the appointment of parenting coordinators in family law matters, to the Judiciary. The goal is to provide definition, clarity, uniformity and professionalism to the parenting coordination process.
Working group on jury selection process: NJSBA President Domenick Carmagnola announced the creation of a working group to study the issues raised in State v. Andujar, a unanimous Supreme Court decision released this summer that raised questions about the jury selection process. The group will examine discrimination in the jury selection process and the role of peremptory challenges which will be the subject of a Judicial Conference this fall. The Association believes it is essential that the legal community come together to discuss the twin issues of eradicating discrimination in the jury selection process and the role of peremptory challenges in selecting a fair jury. Appointments to the working group are forthcoming.
NJICLE award recipients: The Board approved the recommendation that attorney Christopher Placitella receive the 2022 Alfred C. Clapp Award, and that Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed and attorneys Robert Brass, Crystal West Edwards and Tracey Goldstein receive Distinguished Service Awards. They are being recognized for their service to the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, the NJSBA’s educational division. They will be honored on Nov. 8.
Family Law Retreat 2022: The Board approved Marco Island as the location for the 2022 Family Law Retreat. It will be held March 21-27. Additional details will be announced soon.