The following is a summary of actions taken at the Jan. 13, 2017, 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: At the outset of the meeting, Association President Thomas H. Prol swore in a new trustee, Diana N. Fredericks. She was selected to fill the vacant Hunterdon County trustee position on the association’s governing body. Federicks is with Gebhardt & Kiefer and devotes her practice to matrimonial, divorce and family law. She is certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a matrimonial law attorney, is president of the Hunterdon County Bar Association, and is a member of the state bar association’s Leadership Academy. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Raritan Valley Community College in the paralegal program. Fredericks will complete the term of Haekyoung Suh, who left the Board of Trustees following her appointment as a Superior Court judge in the fall.
Rule change proposal: The association will provide comments to the New Jersey Supreme Court about a proposal to amend Rule 1:20. The proposed change regards discipline of attorneys. The association’s comments will express concerns that the proposals could possibly release information about charges of ethics violations prior to a finding of fault, which have no relation to the matter in which their release is sought. The association will ask that the Court provide additional notice to respondents and the opportunity to be heard before information is released.
Future of the profession: At the upcoming American Bar Association’s Mid-Year Meeting in Miami, the NJSBA’s delegates will oppose a proposal to change the attorney advertising rules. A raft of proposals will be heard by the ABA’s governing body that the association believes would undermine the current rules governing fee sharing, referral fees and the solicitation of clients, and possibly remove protections in the rules of conduct designed to ensure potential clients have access to information, but are not misled or unduly influenced by organizations that cannot offer legal guidance.
Amicus update: The trustees also approved the association seeking an amicus role in two pending matters.
The association will join a challenge to the Bail Reform Act brought by the Association of Counties, which is pending before the Council on Local Mandates. The NJSBA will advocate that, since the act implements a constitutional provision, the council is not the proper venue for the issue. The association will further advocate that the act does not represent an unfunded mandate, as there is some funding provided for its implementation. Finally, the association intends to reiterate its belief that, while the principles of the act are sound and should be upheld, funding for its provisions should come from the general treasury, not filing fees.
The second matter, Smith v. Datla, which is pending in the Appellate Division, involves the proper statute of limitations that should be applied to matters involving the AIDS Assistance Act. The association will advocate against any attempt to limit the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and their access to the courts due to a restrictive statute of limitations, which could have broad-reaching effects and extend to claims in other areas of law.