125 Years Ago
June 1888: A suit by the state attorney general attempted to block the city of Newark from removing human remains from an old burial ground sought to be used for other purposes. The suit was on behalf of people claiming to be heirs of the original settlers of the city and therefore holding a trust in the remains. Chief Justice Mercer Beasley found that even if their ancestors were buried there, they had no right to the soil.
100 Years Ago
June 1913: Joseph Congdon, a lay judge of the Court of Errors and Appeals, was known for his tongue-in-cheek tips to lawyers, in court and out. Among his gems: "Counsel who bring causes before the court of (thank Heaven) the last resort, which are obviously unreversible, or are evidently prosecuted for additional fees from helpless and hopeless clients, may assume that the court fully appreciates the situation."
75 Years Ago
June 9, 1938: The State Bar Association approved a Code of Principles and Practices Applicable to Real Estate Brokers, providing that preparation of documents for real estate transactions constituted the practice of law. It recognized that parties were under no obligation to retain lawyers and had the right to prepare their own documents, "but such right … does not justify the preparation of documents by others," it said. The code still required the N.J. Association of Real Estate Boards’ approval.
50 Years Ago
June 6, 1963: A longshoreman who slipped on spilled beans on a dock won his damages case claiming "unseaworthiness" of the vessel he was unloading. An appeals court reversed, finding the doctrine stretched beyond its rational limits. But the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the judgment, noting a 1948 admiralty statute extended liability to damage or injury arising on land. (Gutierrez v. Waterman Steamship Corp.)
25 Years Ago
June 9, 1988: For the third time that year, the state Supreme Court rejected compulsive gambling as a defense to disbarment for misappropriation of client trust funds. The latest lawyer to fail in that effort was Louis Nitti, who used his Livingston firm’s trust account as collateral to get a credit line at Caesar’s Boardwalk Regency Casino. The court found Nitti, despite his addiction, was capable of controlling his conduct.