At its July meeting, the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) Board of Trustees supported numerous bills and directed the Pandemic Task Force Committee on the Resumption of Jury Trials to study the Judiciary’s recently issued plan to restart trials in September. The meeting was held via conference call because of the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Although the Judiciary’s plan is laudable, the board said, numerous important practical and constitutional details have not been addressed. The NJSBA issued a statement outlining those concerns, in which it said, “The NJSBA's first and foremost concern has always been that the resumption of jury trials happen in a way that balances safety considerations for all involved in the justice system with the litigant's rights to present their case for resolution in a reasonably prompt manner before a fair, representative and impartial jury.”
The NJSBA added, “Litigants, lawyers, judges, jurors, and court staff have a right to know these details before the plan is implemented, so that each can make their own informed choice as to whether the safety measures in place are sufficient protection for their individual health circumstances.”
The NJSBA’s Committee on the Resumption of Jury Trials made a number of recommendations for a multi-stage process for jury selection, many of which were incorporated in the Judiciary’s plan.
The board supported the following pending bills:
- A-2025 (Bramnick) would require that fees for filing or recording partnership statements be standard and not vary depending on number of partners.
- S-844 (Nellie) would revise financial reporting requirements for charitable organizations and would exclude non-monetary in-kind donations from gross revenue for the purpose of reporting requirements
- A-1078 (Speight)/S-1146 (Ruiz) would require domestic violence orders to be issued in other languages in addition to English under certain circumstances. The Association will urge the bill be amended to reflect how the translations are done and how they are paid for.
- A-3964 (Quijano/S-2456 (Cryan) would permit remote application for marriage and civil union licenses and eliminate the waiting period for patients with certain life-threatening symptoms during period of Executive Order 103 of 2020 related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A-4171 (Quijano)/S-2480 (Ruiz) aims to establish a one-time payment program in the Department of Treasury for aid for certain eligible taxpayers, namely undocumented immigrant New Jersey residents who pay taxes. The measure would allot a $35 million appropriation.
- A-2964 (Reynolds-Jackson)/S-1304 (Turner) would require all creditors who acquire title non-owner-occupied residential property following foreclosure to notify the municipality and common-interest community.
- S-78 (Bateman) would expand the pool of relatives who are exempt from the transfer inheritance tax to include lineal relatives. The Association will urge that the bill be clarified to use plain language and that step-grandchildren be included in the group of relatives.
- A-1263 (Schaer)/S-1914 (Pou) would change the way stranger-oriented life insurance works. The Association plans to reach out to the sponsors to suggest amendments to the measure that would address concerns the legislation is too broad to add a caveat to protect unwitting people who could be preyed upon.
The board supported an American Bar Association (ABA) resolution that proposes best practices for litigation financing. The guidelines are not binding and are meant to help lawyers who may engage in financing and ensuring that there is transparency with clients that the practice is used. The resolution will go before the ABA’s House of Delegates when it meets next month. The Association will notify its delegates, as well as others from New Jersey, of the position to take into consideration when casting a vote during the House of Delegates meeting, which will be held virtually this year.