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125 Years Ago

May 1878: An act of the Legislature cut the chief justice’s pay to $3,500 and other justices’ pay to $3,000. Worse, with court business down, the fees justices drew from filed cases were diminished more than salaries. “The reduction is so great, taking fees and salary together, that it will be difficult for lawyers of the highest ability to accept the position of judge of the Supreme Court even in these times when the lawyers’ business is so unprofitable,” the Law Journal wrote.

100 Years Ago

May 1904: Anna Valentina, condemned to be hanged on May 19 for murder, was granted a 30-day reprieve, reportedly because Gov. Franklin Murphy could not bear putting a woman on the gallows. But the killing was especially heinous – Rosa Salza was stabbed multiple times holding a child in her arms – and Valentina had confessed. Premeditation was the only issue and the jury resolved it against her. Valentina took appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied her habeas corpus. She was hanged in 1906.

75 Years Ago

May 1929: “The Contemporary,” a Newark women’s club, was pooh-poohed by police when it complained that speakeasies were widespread, so its members took their case to the Essex County prosecutor. Two raids netted over 60 prisoners at houses where gambling, drinking and other vices were rampant. “Perhaps by this time the Newark Commissioner has discovered that women can do something, if they try, to uncover crimes,” the Law Journal noted.

50 Years Ago

May 6, 1954: Taking a stand against McCarthyism, the State Bar Association adopted a resolution for appointment of a committee to look into and report on the conduct of congressional investigations, implicitly those by Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Permanent Committee on Investigations. The Bar diplomatically decided not to send the resolution to President Eisenhower or New Jersey’s congressmen.

25 Years Ago

May 3, 1979: Though lauding the result in In re Kozlov, 79 NJ 232 (1979), which upheld the attorney-client privilege against a judge’s demand that a lawyer divulge information imparted in secret, the Law Journal editors felt the state Supreme Court had “muddied the waters” by broadening the privilege to include the client’s very identity and by “applying yardsticks – need to know and no other source – which long ago were discarded as discovery criteria.”

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