125 Years Ago
April 1888: Among the state laws newly enacted was Chapter 41, providing for supplying the place of a president judge of a county court by means of a like judge from another county, to be designated by the chief justice or any associate justice of the Supreme Court if such justice were unable to perform the duties himself that he was authorized and required to do. The Law Journal editors queried, "Are we to understand that all the justices of the Supreme Court are authorized and required to fill the vacant place themselves before any one else may be appointed?"
100 Years Ago
April 1913: A law to eliminate railroad grade crossings finally passed after years of resistance by rail carriers, who objected to the costs involved. "Having permitted the railroads originally to place their tracks over public highways on grade and left them undisturbed for a generation or more, these corporations argued that the immense expenditure required for immediate track elevation would be both unfair and ruinous," the Law Journal editors observed. If that were the case, it was well the law came sooner than later, they said, since costs were only going to go up.
75 Years Ago
April 14, 1938: A House of Representatives bill providing for displacement of court reporters by mechanical sound recorders drew expected and strident opposition. The National Shorthand Reporters Association said the system would tack on extra costs, not only for operation and maintenance of machinery but also for preparation of transcripts. The chief problem, the group said, was that sound recorders would not be able to distinguish speakers in a courtroom, resulting in inaccurate trial records.
50 Years Ago
April 11, 1963: The Division of Motor Vehicles director complained to the state judiciary that the practice of suspending drivers’ licenses indefinitely was causing administrative problems. The DMV could not restore an indefinitely suspended license without the sentencing judge’s consent, but under court rules a judge could not reduce or change a sentence after 60 days. The suggested solution was to suspend for a set time period and to note "recommend driver re-examination" in serious cases.
25 Years Ago
April 14, 1988: Two months after the state Supreme Court voided surrogacy contracts in In re Baby M, Bergen County Judge Birger Sween awarded the natural mother, Mary Beth Whitehead, extensive, unsupervised visitation. He overruled objections by custodial parents William and Elizabeth Stern, saying, "Neither the Sterns nor their expert seemed able to comprehend this is no longer a termination of parental rights or adoption case, and it no longer matters how Melissa was conceived."