Board of Trustees Report, April 15, 2016

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The following is a summary of actions taken at the April 15, 2016, 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: The trustees approved Tracy M. Thompson to serve the remainder of a vacant at-large trustee term. Thompson is an assistant Attorney General, and has served in either a county or state prosecutor’s office for nearly 25 years. In the state bar, she has served as chair of the Minorities in the Profession Section and on the Judicial Administration and Diversity committees. She is a member and former president of the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey. She was also vice president of the Garden State Bar Association and active with the Mercer County Bar Association. The seat is designated for an African-American member and runs through May 2017.

Court rules: The board agreed to send comments to the Supreme Court with regard to proposals to change Court Rules, especially those related to civil, special civil and tax matters, and the Code of Judicial Conduct. The full comments on the court rules can be found here. Association representatives will testify at the Supreme Court’s May 17 public hearing on the rules. Comments on the judicial code are due May 1.  

Future of the legal profession: The trustees said the Executive Committee should prepare a response to the American Bar Association’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services issue papers on alternative business structures, legal check-ups and unregulated legal services providers that is consistent with the position the NJSBA has taken previously – specifically emphasizing the importance of the role of lawyers in the provision of legal services and as owners of law firms.

Government relations: With the budget break looming for the Legislature, the board took action on a number of pending measures.

The trustees supported:

·         A2630 (Gusciora), which permits people convicted of driving with a suspended license to be sentenced to a labor assistance program;

·         A3077 (Vainieri Huttle)/S2013 (Beck), a measure that revises procedures for processing incomplete Medicaid applications, and exempts asset transfers of up to $500 per month during the look-back period for determining eligibility for long-term care services;

·         A3335 (Sumter)/S1585 (Rice), which establishes a program allowing certain applicants to perform community service in lieu of paying motor vehicle surcharges;

·         S1180 (Bateman), a bill that provides that offenses committed prior to the enactment of P.L. 2013, c. 70 for talking or texting on hand-held devices while driving are not previous violations;

·          A1946 (Coughlin)/S1257 (Vitale), which adds cyber-harassment to the domestic violence statutes;

·         A2175 (Taliaferro) S722 (Cruz-Perez), which would establish Linette Lebron’s Law to modify procedures for marriage or civil union where a party is terminally ill; and

·         A3282 (Dancer), which prohibits the award of custody or visitation rights to persons convicted of certain sex crimes against minors.  The board also supported the Family Law and Real Property, Trust and Estate Law sections’ proposed changes to laws on equitable distribution and equitable spousal share.

·         The trustees also agreed to support with amendments A759 (Moriarty)/S755 (Beach), which prohibits certain provisions in consumer contracts.

The board opposed:

·         A1266 (Caride), which expands the implied consent statute to include urine testing;

·         A3219 (Dancer), which is known as the Peter Falk Act and establishes certain requirements concerning access to persons subject to order or guardianship;

·         S109 (Pennacchio), a measure that concerns certain workers’ compensation supplemental benefits for surviving dependents of public safety workers who die in the line of duty;

·         A3320 (Munoz), which requires breath or blood testing in motor vehicle accidents; and

·         A638 (Carroll), which provides that certain temporary support orders in pending matrimonial or civil union actions expire in six months or less, subject to renewal.

In addition to taking action on existing legislation, the trustees gave the go-ahead to pursue legislation the NJSBA’s sections are proposing. The board approved proposing a revision to the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act that incorporates New Jersey provisions into the revised uniform law outlining procedures for an executor, agent, guardian, or trustee, under certain circumstances, to manage electronic records of a decedent, principal, incapacitated person, or trust creator. A second NJSBA-drafted bill will seek to prohibit warrants for parking violations.

Law Center security upgrades: The trustees approved several measures to ensure the New Jersey Law Center, which is home to the NJSBA and several other organizations, is welcoming to visitors while preserving security so all those who visit and work at the facility are safe and can receive help in emergency situations.

Outgoing trustees: NJSBA President Miles S. Winder III and President-Elect Thomas H. Prol offered farewell remarks to several trustees whose tenure on the board will conclude in May. The outgoing trustees are: Sandra Ayres, an at-large trustee; Dominic V. Caruso, the Passaic County trustee; William A. Krais, the Morris County trustee; Jeffrey Neu, a Young Lawyers Division trustee; and Steven M Richman, who represented the state bar foundation. Two other trustees, who left the board earlier this year, were also recognized. They were: Fruqan Mouzon, an at-large trustee, and Thomas P. Scrivo, who was a section/committee trustee. 

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