The following is a summary of action taken at the July 24, 2020, meeting of the New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees. This meeting was held via conference call, due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. This summary does not constitute official minutes.
Resumption of jury trials: The Board asked the NJSBA Pandemic Task Force Committee on the Resumption of Jury Trials to study the plan the Judiciary recently issued on restarting trials in September. The Board agreed the plan was laudable, but expressed concern that many important practical and constitutional details have not been addressed. The NJSBA issued a statement outlining those concerns.
Urging action for in-person parenting visits: The Board approved the Child Welfare Law Section’s request to send a letter to the Governor and other policy makers, asking that in-person family and parenting-time visits for children in state custody foster care situations be made a priority. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many children in foster care have not had in-person visits that allow for parent-child bonding, which could have a detrimental effect on both.
Government affairs: The board of trustees supported several pending bills. They are:
- A2025, a bill Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick is sponsoring that would require that fees for filing or recording partnership statements to be standard and not vary depending on number of partners.
- S844, a measure Senator Nellie is sponsoring that revises financial reporting requirements for charitable organizations and would exclude non-monetary in-kind donations from gross revenue for the purpose of reporting requirements
- A1078/S1146, a measure that Senator Teresa Ruiz and Assemblywoman Shanique Speight are sponsoring that requires domestic violence orders to be issued in other languages in addition to English under certain circumstances. The Association will urge that the bill be amended to reflect how the translations will happen and what funding source will be used to pay for them.
- A3964/S2456, a bill that Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and Senator Joseph Cryan are sponsoring and would permit remote application for marriage and civil union license and eliminate the waiting period for patients with certain life-threatening symptoms during period of Executive Order 103 of 2020 related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A4171/S2480 that Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and Senator Teresa Ruiz and aims to establish a one-time payment program in Department of Treasury for aid for certain eligible taxpayers, namely undocumented immigrant New Jersey residents who pay taxes. The measure would allot an $35 million appropriation.
- A2964/S1304, a bill that Senator Shirley Turner and Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson are sponsoring that would require all creditors who acquire title non-owner-occupied residential property following foreclosure to notify the municipality and common-interest community.
- S78, which Senator Kip Bateman is sponsoring that expands the pool of relatives who are exempt from the Transfer Inheritance Tax to include lineal relatives. The Association will urge that the bill be clarified to use plain language and that step-grandchildren be included in the group of relatives.
- A1263/S1914, a measure that Senator Nellie Pou and Assemblyman Gary Schaer have sponsored that would change the way stranger-oriented life insurance works. The Association plans to reach out to the sponsors to suggest amendments to the measure that would address concerns that the legislation is too broad to add a caveat to protect unwitting people who could be preyed upon.
Support ABA Resolution on third-party litigation funding: The Board supported a resolution that proposes best practices for litigation financing. The guidelines are not binding and are meant to help lawyers who may engage in financing and ensuring that there is transparency with clients that the practice is used. The resolution will go before the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates when it meets next month. The Association will notify its delegates, as well as others from New Jersey, of the position to take into consideration when casting a vote during the House of Delegates meeting, which will be held virtually this year.
Policy Manual Revisions: As a result of the spring vote to dissolve General Council, the Trustees agreed that the NJSBA’s Policy Manual should be updated to remove references to the organization.