Board of Trustees Report, September 20, 2019

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The following is a summary of the NJSBA’s Board of Trustees meeting. It does not constitute official minutes.

Legislation: The Board of Trustees approved taking positions on several measures pending before the New Jersey Legislature. The board voted to support:

·         A5213 Lopez/S3815 Vitale, which makes child support arrearages collectable anytime by public welfare or other social services board or agency against obligor or obligor’s estate based on amount of public assistance provided due to obligor’s failure to pay support.

·         A5396 Vainieri Huttle/S3528 Scutari, which establishes a process to obtain judgement of adoption for civil union partner or spouse of natural or legal parent of child when that person is named as parent on child’s birth certificate.

 

Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and Individual Checklists: The trustees reviewed data collected over three years about activities its members had taken to advance the goals of diversity and inclusion in their personal and professional lives. The checklist is meant as a tool to offer examples of ways leaders can demonstrate their commitment to those goals. Among the activities the trustees have done in a widespread way are: develop a mentoring relationships with an attorney or law student of a diverse background; attend a conference, program or seminar on a diversity-related topic; and attend an event or function where the trustee was in the minority. The checklists are an ongoing effort and the questions and categories are constantly being reviewed. To read more about them, visit here.

Judicial Vacancies: NJSBA President Evelyn Padin advised the Board of Trustees that the NJSBA was seeking a meeting with the Governor’s Office to discuss judicial vacancies, which are approaching nearly 50 statewide and could grow in 2020 after the new judicial pay schedule goes into effect.

Courthouse security: Following an incident where a Workers’ Compensation Court Judge was threatened, the NJSBA trustees approved sending a letter to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development commissioner urging greater and more uniform security measures be put into place in the Division of Workers’ Compensation courts. The request to address the issue was made by the NJSBA’s Workers’ Compensation Section.

Special speakers: The Board of Trustees voted to approve several speakers for special seminars. It approved a return for the presidential historic reenactors who appear in Revolutionary Minds; Steven Stark, a writing expert; Samuel D. Hodge, who teaches about anatomy for lawyers; Barron Henley, who will present about using technology effectively; Steven Rosen, of Movie Magic – How the Masters Try Cases; and Tom Blaisse, a time management and performance expert. 

General Council election: Intelliscan, a third-party administrator for a fall election for a General Council member to serve on the NJSBA’s Nominating Committee. The election will be held Oct. 16-23.

Policy Changes: The trustees approved several policies. Among those changes are:

·         Updating the Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee Manual to codify that a member of JPAC cannot appear as a candidate before the committee for 12 months from the end of their service. A second change is that committee members should be deemed to have resigned their position if they miss 25 percent of the meetings each year, at the discretion of the chair.

·         Updating the NJSBA’s Reimbursement Policy to allow for the reimbursement of expenses the Family Law Section chair incurs in planning and holding the annual Family Law Retreat, provided that profit from the event can cover the expense.

·         The trustees voted that no changes were necessary to the questionnaire the Nominating Committee will use this year.

·         The board voted to adopt a policy that disqualifies any employee of the NJSBA during the term of their employment and for two years after from consideration of any award on the basis of their activities that fell within the scope of their employment.

·         All changes will be made using gender-neutral language.

Muncipal Court Report: The trustees voted to share feedback on four recommendations of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Working Group on Municipal Courts. The NJSBA comments are consistent with prior recommendations to the Report of the Supreme Court Committee on Municipal Court Operations, Fines and Fees.

·         On recommendation 7 about representation in cases involving license suspension for failing to pay, the NJSBA will urge that while defendants have a right to counsel in license suspension hearings, those defendants who qualify for a public defender should be afforded representation by the municipal public defender. Other defendants should be advised of their right to seek private counsel and that the so-called Madden list should not be invoked for appointments.

·         On recommendation 11, the trustees endorsed the concept of establishing a uniform and formalized process for appointments and reappointments of municipal judges.

·         On recommendation 13, the trustees voted to express concern about the process of reviewing sentences imposed to ensure they are not reviewed in a vacuum and take into account all of the circumstances surrounding each sentence.

·         On recommendation 15, the trustees voted to generally support the goal of permitting municipal court presiding judges to be designated as full-time at the Chief Justice’s discretion, but to note that it will be necessary to establish more details about how individuals would be appointed to their position, and the terms and expectations of those positions.

Committee name change: The board voted that the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Committee will now be known as the Committee on Lawyer Well-Being, in line with a more expansive view of attorney wellness issues and practices of other bar associations. 

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