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125 Years Ago February 1879: A Senate bill proposed reducing the courts costs for suits over small amounts. It set out a sliding scale by which the court costs recoverable were fractionally reduced with the size of the verdict. The trouble was that a plaintiff would have to state on the summons the amount sued for, and could not recover more. 100 Years Ago February 1904: Courts in Newark were experimenting with a new form of juvenile justice: placing under-18 offenders in the hands of a probation officer, Mary Philbrook, who interviewed each accused and investigated his home life in order to decide the best remedial action. “Thus far this year not a single boy has been sent to jail, and every case that has been given into the probation officer’s charge has turned out satisfactorily,” the Law Journal reported. 75 Years Ago February 1929: In his inaugural address on becoming New Jersey’s 46th governor, Morgan Foster Larson asked for a complete revision of the state’s election laws, which were a voluminous, uncodified patchwork of overlapping statutes. “At the hands of experienced draftsmen, the law could be reduced by one-half in volume and increased in clarity and precision,” he said, calling for appointment of a commission to complete the task by the next legislative session. 50 Years Ago February 11, 1954: A State Bar Association conference attended by delegates from 13 counties urged legislative measures to stanch a perceived upswing in the unauthorized practice of law, particularly by out-of-state attorneys in such areas as estate administration, public bond issues and corporate work, but also by overreaching title companies, collection agencies and mortgage lenders. 25 Years Ago February 8, 1979: Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, vowed to abolish the “blue-slip system” by which a single senator could blackball a judicial nominee in his home state. But Kennedy said he would not “discard cavalierly the tradition of senatorial courtesy, exception-riddled and outdated as it may be.” Instead, he would bring the withholding of a blue slip to the attention of the committee, which could then decide whether or not to proceed with the nomination.

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