Supreme Court Sits in Camden
By Mike Mathis
Students at Rutgers-Camden Law School recently got a first-hand lesson on the workings of the New Jersey Supreme Court.
They were in the front row, and in the following rows, when the seven justices heard cases in the law school’s new mock trial courtroom March 9. The courtroom was built as part of a $37 million expansion and renovation project at the law school.
The session was a milestone in another way: it was the just the second time since the adoption of the 1947 New Jersey Constitution that established the modern Supreme Court that the court heard arguments outside of Trenton.
The last time was in 1975, when a malfunctioning water treatment plant forced the justices to relocate to Morristown.
“We have voluntarily left Trenton today,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner told the students and attorneys who gathered to witness the proceedings.
“We’re here to help celebrate the magnificent addition to the law school that was recently completed,” the chief justice said. “The addition is a wonderful improvement to the physical plant at the law school, but we believe that it also enhances the luster of a law school that is so highly regarded in our state, our region and the nation as a whole.”
The court heard arguments in three cases. The cases involved insanity defense in a murder case, whether a defendant’s plea was knowing and voluntary if his attorney misinformed him about the deportation consequences of his plea, and whether municipalities can require developers to set aside land for open space and recreation or make payments in lieu of preservation.
Students who could not be in the courtroom watched a live broadcast of the proceedings from a nearby classroom.
After a lunch break, the justices held a question-and-answer session with students.