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New Jersey Suspends Civil Trials In Select Counties Due To Judicial Vacancies

We feel that it is important to keep our clients advised not only of the progress of your specific case, but also of important developments within our New Jersey court system that could also affect your case. Unfortunately, we are writing to you given a recent announcement by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner on February 7, 2023, which starts in part:

“Because of the current high number of judicial vacancies, trials in the Civil Division and matrimonial trials will not be conducted in two vicinages, beginning Feb. 21, 2023, except for very limited circumstances. Those trials will be suspended for the immediate future.

Circumstances today are particularly challenging in two vicinages. In Vicinage 13, which is comprised of Hunterdon, Somerset, and Warren counties, there are five vacancies out of a total of 20 judicial positions. In Vicinage 15, comprised of Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties, there are nine vacancies out of 28 judgeships.

The Judiciary prioritizes proceedings in which an individual’s liberty is at stake, like criminal and juvenile delinquency matters; cases that present potential emergencies, like complaints of domestic violence; and other time-sensitive matters. In light of the high percentage of vacancies in Vicinages 13 and 15, and the particular challenges multi-county vicinages face, there are simply not enough judges at this time to conduct civil and matrimonial trials in either vicinage.

Without additional relief, we may well face the same situation in other vicinages in the near future.

We recognize that when the doors of the courthouse are closed – even partially – people entitled to their day in court suffer real harm. We therefore respectfully call on the Executive and Legislative branches to address the current vacancy crisis in Vicinages 13 and 15 as well as other parts of the state. We are prepared to assist in any way that would be helpful. We look forward to a resumption of all proceedings in both vicinages as soon as possible.”

The impact of this announcement cannot be understated. Namely, civil cases in these affected counties (and possibly more) cannot proceed to trial at this point, and case back log will certainly increase the longer this suspension is in place. Our Firm continues to push all of our client’s cases towards trial and/or resolution in as timely a manner as possible. At the same time, we want our clients to understand the practical roadblocks we face at this moment.

Should you have any questions or concerns about the effect of this announcement on your case, please give us a call at your convenience to discuss further. We would also encourage you to contact your local state legislators and ask that additional judges be appointed to allow our civil justice system resume normal function throughout our State.

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