The following is a summary of actions taken at the Sept. 23, 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.
Filing fees: The NJSBA is exploring all available options to address the concerns its members have expressed regarding the latest round of filing fees.
The board discussed potential next steps. It agreed additional information was necessary from the Courts and fact-finding should be pursued about other options for relief. Further, it was determined that the membership should be advised about the association’s actions and asked to provide feedback about the implementation of them around the state.
For over two years, the NJSBA has been meeting and corresponding with the Court to discuss ongoing issues with filing fees. In particular, the association has drawn attention to our concerns on fees for substitution of attorney, answer to counterclaims, certified documents with the seal of the Court, and motions in limine.
The NJSBA will continue to press the case to see that filing fees are fairly implemented. Further, the NJSBA will advocate zealously that because the courts provide a critical service to all residents of this state, any budget needs should be provided from the General Treasury.
The association will seek to join Snyder v. Snyder.
The association position would urge the Court to grant certification in the case so it can address the proper standard to be used in evaluating whether a court-appointed special fiscal agent has a conflict of interest. The case will also evaluate whether fees by the special fiscal agent defending against conflict allegations should be paid.
Guardianship forms: The trustees recommended that the Court not adopt the standardized forms related to guardianships for incapacitated adults. While it may be prudent to have “model forms” as a guide, the proposed “required forms” fall far short of being able to meet the varying and sometimes complex facts presented in guardianship matters, and, in some instances, the proposed forms do not appear to collect enough information required to meet the guardianship standards established by Court Rule. Ultimately, the NJSBA believes the proposed forms, if not supplemented, will cause confusion, at best, and delays, at worst, in guardianship actions, leaving some of the most vulnerable individuals in our state without protection for longer than is necessary. The NJSBA offered recommendations to revise and update some of the forms to comport with practice and Court Rule.
Recommendations to limit, give due process for juvenile shackling: The association’s Board of Trustees agreed with the findings and recommendations of the Supreme Court’s Working Group on the Indiscriminate Shackling of Juveniles in Court.
The association will submit comments supporting the group’s suggestions that juveniles should not be shackled during court, unless absolutely necessary to prevent physical harm or to prevent flight—and only if no less-restrictive means are available. Further, the association said the recommendations that the juvenile’s attorney and prosecutor should have an opportunity to be heard before a judge makes a final determination about the use of restraints is important.
Community Health Law Project’s 40th anniversary recognized: The association adopted a resolution honoring the contributions of the Community Health Law Project. Since its inception in 1976 with the help of the NJSBA, the project has delivered legal and advocacy services to people living with disabilities. It has assisted more than 75,000 low-income people with disabilities and is committed to educating lawyers, health and social workers, and the public about disability rights.
Resolution honors Alice Paul: A resolution supporting the final passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and urging that Alice Paul receive the Congressional Gold Medal received the backing of the Board of Trustees.