Toms River Regional Schools Hall of Fame

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Robert F. Novins

Robert F. Novins's induction into the Toms River Schools Hall of Fame brings together for the first time a father and son as members. Mr. Novins's father, Benjamin Novins, was inducted in 1989. Both Mr. Novins were lifelong residents of Toms River and thus their induction is a compliment to our Toms River community.

Mr. Novins is married to Irene Walsh, a high school classmate. They have four children: Jeffrey Hartt, landscape architect; Beth Novins Marcinhes, lawyer; Allison, medical student; Carson J., lawyer and two grandchildren, Robert and Samuel. Mr. Novins was educated in the Toms River school system, graduating in 1944. He then attended the University of North Carolina and Rutgers Law School, earning an LL.B. He was admitted to the bar of the State of New Jersey in November 1949 and began the practice of law with his uncle, the late Robert J. Novins.

In June 1962, Mr. Novinswas appointed by Gov. Richard J. Hughes as judge of the Ocean County Court, at a time when there were two judges in Ocean County, as compared to the twenty judges who sit today. At age 35, he became the youngest judge in New Jersey, sharing responsibility with the late Judge Albert S. Larrabee in presiding over both the civil and criminal calendars.

When the Ocean County bench was increased in size with the appointment of additional judges, Mr. Novins made the decision to return to the practice of law as a trial lawyer. He resumed practice with his uncle's firm in Toms River and was afforded the opportunity to try civil and criminal cases throughout the state.

Among the cases handled by Mr. Novins in his 50-year career was Rova Farms v. Investors Insurance Company, a case in which the New Jersey Supreme Court in 1974 dramatically changed the law in New Jersey when it recognized the right of insured to sue their insurance carriers for bad faith in failing to protect their interests. This landmark decision created a new concept in the relationship between insured and their insurance carriers and has generally been adopted as law throughout the United States.

Mr. Novins's criminal practice has included the trials of numerous felony cases, including murder. Two of the murder cases dealt with unique defenses of insanity and battered women's syndrome, both of which resulted in the exoneration of Mr. Novins's clients.

Mr. Novins has litigated a wide variety of civil matters in law and equity, including commercial, property, tort and probate cases. Although not customary, in the field of personal injury, his practice has included the representation of both claimants seeking damages and insurance companies defending against such claims. He is frequently retained by lawyers charged by the Supreme Court with unethical conduct, which potentially could result in loss of license and professional standing.

In 1970, Mr. Novins was elected to membership in the American College of Trial Lawyers, a highly prestigious national organization which, on invitation, inducts fewer than 5% of the trial bar in each state. In addition, he is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and former member of the International College of Trial Lawyers.

In 1978, Mr. Novins was the recipient of the Trial Attorneys' of New Jersey Award for distinguished service in the cause of justice which, over the years, has been bestowed upon many of New Jersey's outstanding trial lawyers.

In 1980, Mr. Novins was appointed by the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court as Vice Chairman of the newly formed Trial Certification Board. This board formulated the standards for certifying civil and criminal trial lawyers and engaged in the selection process for those earning such certification.

Mr. Novins has served on the Editorial Board of the New Jersey Law Journal and is a frequent lecturer on trial techniques for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education. Mr. Novins served as President of the Ocean County Bar Association in 1955 and was the recipient of its achievement award in 1982. Mr. Novins was a founding director of the Garden State Bank, a past chairman of the Ocean County Democratic Committee, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Toms River Country Club.

It is with admiration and gratitude that the Toms River Schools Hall of Fame honors Robert F. Novins, a man who enjoys a statewide reputation in the legal community and who chose to remain in the town where he grew up and where he received his early education.

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