Board of Trustees Report, September 8, 2017

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The following is a summary of actions taken at the 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. 

Judicial independence: The board substantially adopted a report of the Subcommittee on Judicial Independence in the Municipal Courts as a starting point for potential ways to address issues in municipal courts. The report is the result of two years of study, which included four public hearings, and offers ways to further a fair and independent municipal court system. The findings of the report will be shared with the New Jersey Judiciary and several association sections that may have additional experience or insights on the issues raised about the arm of the court system where millions of people form their first and only impression of the state’s justice system. The recommendations include establishing a uniform appointment and reappointment process for municipal court judges; setting formal tenure procedures; creating statewide standards for towns to use in the selection process; and establishing firm separation between court staff and local police.

Mid-Year Meeting 2018: The trustees approved Rome as the location for next year’s Mid-Year Meeting. The association has held two successful events in the city in prior years.

Amicus: The NJSBA will seek to be a friend of the court in two pending matters.

The trustees voted to accept the invitation of the New Jersey Appellate Division to participate in Bianchi v. Ladjen, which involves questions about procedures used in house closings, the role of title companies, and the use of experts and net opinions.

            The board also approved seeking to join Dunbar Homes v. Township of Franklin, which is pending in the Supreme Court. The case seeks to clarify the question of what constitutes a sufficient submission to a municipal land use body for the sake of zoning protection. The association will argue that if the lower court opinion is upheld it would undermine the purpose and intent behind application rules, and that substantial compliance with a town’s regulations provides the municipality with sufficient notice of a proposed development to trigger the time of application rule.

Continuing Legal Education awards: With the approval of the trustees, the association will give Shirley B. Whitenack the 2018 Alfred C. Clapp Award for her dedication and service to the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education (NJICLE), the educational arm of the association. In addition to Whitenack, who is also an association trustee, distinguished service awards will go to Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Patterson; former American Bar Association President Paulette Brown; Carol Johnston, of the Administrative Office of the Courts; and Steven Mignogna, who has been a NJICLE speaker for more than 25 years.

Commission on Professionalism: Past NJSBA President Miles S. Winder III was selected as the association’s honoree at the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law’s annual award lunch. He will receive a professional lawyer of the year award. Winder will join dozens of honorees from around the state who will be recognized for leading exemplary careers in the law.