Board of Trustees Report December 10, 2021

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Note: This report does not constitute official minutes.

Government Affairs: The trustees voted to support several pieces of legislation. They are:

A set of bills, A-4275 (Sumter)/S-2587 (Singleton), to expand the categories of lists from which the juror source list is compiled to include recipients of cash assistance or food stamps. The Association also supported this idea in its recent report to the Judicial Conference on Jury Selection, which is examining ways to root out bias and discrimination in selecting juries.

A measure, A-4313 (Mukherji)/S-1780 (Singleton), which requires administrative law judges to be enrolled in the Public Employees Retirement System.

Two sets of bills related to veterans; S-2817 (Gopal)/A-4624 (Downey), which would allow active-duty service members to provide documentation other than a certificate of release or discharge from active duty, known as a DD-214, when claiming veterans’ preferences for civil service; and S-2818 (Gopal)/A-4622 (Downey), which prohibits individuals from receiving compensation for advising or assisting with veterans’ benefits.

A bill, A-5910 (Downey), which would permit the administrator or executor of an estate to file a claim for payment of homestead property tax reimbursement for the portion of the tax year during which the decedent lived.

A measure, A-711 (Sumter)/S-322 (Rice), to establish the New Jersey Reparations Task Force to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans in the state.

A set of bills, A-2808 (Schaer)/S-1604 (Codey), that require certification of diligent inquiry in residential mortgage foreclosure actions to be filed by attorneys. The NJSBA opposed the original bill, but supports the bill as amended to codify the procedure that is currently in the New Jersey Rules of Court.

And bills, A-5185 (McKnight)/S-4030 (Pou), which have to do with discriminatory appraisals of residential property based on race or national origin. Under this bill, holders of appraisal licenses or certifications, or appraisal management company registrations, may have their licenses, certifications or registrations revoked or suspended, or be subject to fines, for discriminatory practices.

Cannabis Report submitted: The NJSBA submitted comments about regulations the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission issued. The comments addressed a wide range of issues, including requesting clarification on perceived conflicts in the rules and regulations, conflicts with the statute, and conflicts with Jake’s Law regarding medical use. Additional rules and regulations urged consideration of licensing requirements, permitting hemp sales, and addressing public safety concerns.

Bankruptcy Law Section’s updated bylaws: The Board approved an update to the Bankruptcy Law Section’s bylaws to address officers, terms and other issues. The section members will finalize the updated bylaws through a vote.

Opinion 685 on attorney discipline for peremptory challenges: The NJSBA sent a letter last month to the Judiciary’s Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics recommending that it not revisit Opinion 685, which concluded that lawyers should not face disciplinary action in connection with their use of peremptory challenges. The letter was the latest in a string of actions by the NJSBA to address the concerns of the Supreme Court’s Judicial Conference on Jury Selection and implicit bias in the jury selection process. “The NJSBA agrees with the ACPE rationale that lawyers who exercise peremptory challenges in the interests of their clients should not have to face the possibility of disciplinary action under RPC 8.4(g),” NJSBA President Domenick Carmagnola said. “Introducing a potential ethics violation in the midst of the jury selection process would most certainly influence the raising and review of a challenge to a peremptory challenge which could, in turn, have a substantial impact on the entire trial.”

2022 Mid-Year Meeting: The trustees approved Key West as the location of the 2022 Mid-Year Meeting. It will be held from Nov. 6-11.

School law: In support of a request from the School Law Committee, the trustees agreed to send a pair of letters related to school law and administrative matters. One letter requests that Office of Administrative Law hearings be held via Zoom, if all parties agree, even after in-person activities resume. A second letter seeks clarification from the Department of Education regarding the rules for remote instruction.