Board of Trustees Report, March 10, 2017

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The following is a summary of actions taken at the March 10, 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.

New trustee: At the outset of the March 10 meeting at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick, Association President Thomas H. Prol swore in John Shahdanian II as a trustee.
     Shahdanian heads the employment law department at Chasan, Lamparello, Mallon & Cappuzzo of Secaucus. He has represented both management and employees before federal and state courts, state administrative tribunals and in arbitration. He serves as borough attorney for Northvale and labor counsel for Bergenfield, Dumont, New Milford and Teaneck, and is a frequent speaker for the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education. Read his bio here.
     He is filling a seat on the board designated for a representative of an NJSBA section or committee. Shahdanian represents the Labor and Employment Law Section and fills a spot created when Christopher Leitner was appointed as a worker’s compensation judge.
Workers’ Compensation Division: In the business of the board, the trustees voted to again shine a light on the need for Gov. Chris Christie to reappoint qualified workers’ compensation judges who are eligible for tenure. The association made a similar request in 2012 and 2013, and the need has become even more urgent given that the number of tenure-eligible judges in the division now exceeds the number of tenured judges. The delay in granting tenure reappointments has harmed the morale of the bench in a system that requires a high level of legal and medical expertise.
     The New Jersey State Bar Association trustees reaffirmed that the association believes strongly that judges should have a reasonable expectation that if they fulfill their obligations and are deemed qualified they should be reappointed. Tenure is meant as a tool to bolster the independence and integrity of judges, and should be granted except in circumstances where a judge is unfit. Further, in addition to affecting the morale and independence of judges, the failure to reappoint them makes it difficult to attract qualified candidates. Read the letter here.
     In a related development, the trustees approved a report of the association’s Workers’ Compensation Section that offers proposals for the division to promote efficiency in processing formal claims. The report will be submitted to the commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development and the director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation. Read the letter here.
Budget: The trustees approved a preliminary budget that projects roughly $12 million in revenue and a nearly equivalent amount in expenses for the coming fiscal year. The plan reflects no increase in dues, and continues to invest in infrastructure upgrades and producing events, seminars and conventions that keep members up-to-date and provide benefit to their practice and professional endeavors. The budget will be published in the New Jersey Law Journal in the coming week. The trustees will make final recommendations and adopt the budget in June.
Court rule reports: The board considered proposals to change court rules on topics ranging from whether plea deals should be allowed in some municipal court cases to what people should say when they are sworn in as witnesses. The association will submit a detailed letter on the proposals to the New Jersey Supreme Court and representatives will testify at the annual public hearing on the proposed changes later this spring.