[125 NJSuper Page 79] On June 21, 1973 the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry, acting pursuant to orders from the Governor, suspended James J. Bonafield from his position as judge of compensation of the Division of Workmen's Compensation. The suspension was based on a charge that Judge Bonafield had engaged in the practice of law in violation of N.J.S.A. 34:15-49. Judge Bonafield now seeks a judgment vacating the suspension, restoring him to office with back pay, and restraining the Governor and his agents from conducting a removal hearing pursuant to N.J. Const. (1947) Art. V, § IV, par. 5. It is asserted that Judge Bonafield is a judicial officer entitled to hold his office during good behavior and that he may only be removed by impeachment pursuant to the provision of N.J. Const. (1947) Art. VII, § III. The Attorney General of New Jersey, on behalf of defendants,
moves to dismiss the complaint or, in the alternative, for summary judgment on the grounds that the court lacks jurisdiction over this matter since plaintiff is not a judicial officer and has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.
N.J. Const. (1947) Art. V, § IV, par. 5 provides:
The Governor may cause an investigation to be made of the conduct in office of any officer or employee who receives his compensation from the State of New Jersey, except a member, officer or employee of the Legislature or an officer elected by the Senate and General Assembly in joint meeting, or a judicial officer. He may require such officers or employees to submit to him a written statement or statements, under oath, of such information as he may call for relating to the conduct of their respective offices or employments. After notice, the service of charges and an opportunity to be heard at public hearing the Governor may remove any such officer or employee for cause. Such officer or employee shall have the right of judicial review, of both the law and the facts, in such manner as shall be provided by law.
Pursuant to this constitutional authority the Governor has issued Executive Order No. 47 as follows:
WHEREAS, the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation has investigated the faithful execution and effective enforcement of the laws with respect to workmen's compensation; and
WHEREAS, during the course of said investigation the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation has received sworn testimony and documentation alleging that James J. Bonafield, Judge of Compensation, engaged in the practice of law in violation of R.S. 34:15-49 between January, 1970 and July, 1972 and has falsely certified on a Department of Labor and Industry questionnaire in March of 1970 that he was not engaged in any outside profession while acting as a Judge of Compensation; and
WHEREAS, said testimony and documentation has been brought to the attention of the Executive Branch of Government by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation pursuant to P.L. 1968, c. 266, sec. 8 (C.52:9M-8); and
WHEREAS, Article V, Section IV, paragraph 5 of the Constitution of New Jersey gives me the authority to investigate and take disciplinary actions against persons who receive remuneration from the State; and
WHEREAS, I directed Ronald M. Heymann, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Industry, to review the sworn testimony and documentation which was presented before
the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation and which was related to the unauthorized practice of law by James J. Bonafield; and
WHEREAS, I determined it to be contrary to the public interest for a Judge of Compensation to continue acting in his official capacity pending investigation and therefore directed the suspension of James J. Bonafield ...