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125 Years Ago February 1879: Jacob Knoblanck, fined for selling liquor on Sunday, tried to remove his case to Elizabeth’s District Court, arguing that Police Justice Joseph Canning had no power to collect a debt greater than $100, which the fine exceeded. Supreme Court Justice Bennett Van Syckel disagreed. “If [that] view is adopted, the city would be powerless to enforce its police regulations, for in the District Court debtors without property could bid it defiance,” he said. 100 Years Ago February 1904: At age 74, state Supreme Court Justice Bennett Van Syckel was appointed to his sixth consecutive five-year term. “Not to have reappointed him because of his age would have been a great mistake,” the Law Journal editors wrote. “The learned justice is … as vigorous in intellect as ever, and is likely to continue to be throughout his term. … Were [he] removed from the Supreme Court bench, there would be a perceptible weakening of our judiciary.” 75 Years Ago February 1929: Of 484 candidates who sat for the October 1928 bar examination, 225, or 46 percent, passed. It was a passing rate similar to that in other states: in New York, 792 out of 1,591 passed (49.7 percent) and in California, 119 out of 289 passed (41 percent). But it was a marked improvement from the days of oral bar exams, when only 10 percent of those examined were found qualified. 50 Years Ago February 18, 1954: Chief Justice Arthur Vanderbilt, having brought about a judicial revolution in New Jersey, urged New York lawyers to go all out in demanding constitutional revision of their own courts. “Do not be content with halfway measures which will not solve your problems,” he told the New York County Lawyers’ Association. “Insist on constitutional amendments that will give your great state the judicial establishment … that it is entitled to.” 25 Years Ago February 15, 1979: The state Supreme Court approved an increase in lay membership in district ethics and fee arbitration committees. Chief Justice Richard Hughes said the move was meant to engender public confidence in and support for the legal profession and its commitment to high ethical standards. Nonlawyers would make up 25 percent of each committee, but each panel was increased from six to eight so as not to diminish the number of attorney members.

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