125 Years Ago
December 1888: The Law Journal editors called for a legislative resolution to create a small court of appeals "to consist only of men learned in the law," replacing the 16-member Court of Errors and Appeals, six judges of which were laymen. The editors suggested appointing a commission staffed by key members of the judiciary and having them report back at the same session of the Legislature, since "[a] commission appointed by one Legislature receives little attention from the next."
100 Years Ago
December 1913: A committee was appointed at a recent special session of the Legislature to investigate the advisability of creating a body of advisers to lawmakers. The Law Journal editors predicted that "whatever the report may be, it is sure to meet with opposition on the part of such members of the Legislature as feel they are perfectly competent to draft bills on any subject under the sun."
75 Years Ago
December 1, 1938: A public statement by U.S. Circuit Judge Joseph Buffington "showing intense hostile feeling toward a litigant whose case he is supposed to hear and decide impartially" astounded the legal profession and the Law Journal editors, who hoped "that the judge will voluntarily withdraw from sitting in the case upon recovery of his poise and sense of propriety." By then, however, Buffington, 93, senile and nearly blind, had taken senior status and was no longer hearing cases.
50 Years Ago
November 28, 1963: The N.J. State Bar Association's midwinter meeting in Atlantic City came to an abrupt halt on Friday, Nov. 22, with the news of President Kennedy's assassination. An interfaith memorial service was conducted that evening at the Hotel Dennis by Chief Justice Joseph Weintraub, Episcopal Rev. Arthur Ackerson, Roman Catholic Father Thomas Rogers and Judge Sidney Goldmann—called upon to recite the Jewish prayers because all the city's rabbis were busy holding sabbath services.
25 Years Ago
December 1, 1988: As the Jan. 1 effective date of New Jersey's new verbal-threshold law loomed, trial lawyers—who had tried and failed to block it—hoped to minimize its impact with a $1 million media campaign aimed at the public. The goal was to persuade as many drivers as possible to opt out of the verbal threshold, which would otherwise automatically be contained in every auto insurance policy in the state.