125 Years Ago

September 1887: The right of justices of the peace to charge a fee for issuing a criminal warrant was far from clear, but many justices did it. Jersey City Justice William Lane was prosecuted and fined $50 for accepting a fee. He paid it under protest and appealed. The Court of Errors and Appeals reversed, holding that a justice could charge a fee unless the applicant made a sworn declaration of inability to pay it.

100 Years Ago

September 1912: Chancellor Robert Walker, addressing the State Bar Association, noted the state court system was virtually as was set up just after the East Jersey and West Jersey provinces were ceded to the British in 1702. The Supreme Court was given the jurisdiction of the Queen’s Bench, the Common Pleas and the Exchequer in England, and the Court of Chancery was vested with general equity jurisdiction.

75 Years Ago

September 16, 1937: Only about 16 percent of N.J. lawyers were State Bar Association members, though dues were only $7.50 (about $120 in today’s money). Membership was even lower in the most attorney-populated counties: Essex (11.5 percent) and Hudson (11.7 percent). The Law Journal editors urged joining the Bar, saying it “marks the difference between the man who thinks only of himself and one who is willing to contribute his time and effort for the betterment of his profession.”

50 Years Ago

September 13, 1962: A judge in Los Angeles dismissed a suit by telephone customers to block the nationwide institution of “all-digit dialing.” The plan was to convert exchanges prefixed by two letters to their numeric equivalents. The opponents argued that it was mentally easier to remember the two-letter exchanges and that eliminating them would make it impossible to distinguish between toll and nontoll calls.

25 Years Ago

September 17, 1987: At oral argument in the Baby M case, N.J. Supreme Court justices voiced doubt about the validity of surrogate contracts, such as the one a judge held to terminate Mary Beth Whitehead’s parental rights and to end all visitation. Justice Stewart Pollock asked, “Have you ever found a case where parental rights were terminated in the best interests of the child?” The court would overturn the ruling.