NJ Supreme Court chief justice warns of historic court vacancies as 6,800 await trial in jails

NJ Supreme Court chief justice warns of historic court vacancies as 6,800 await trial in jails

New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner stated Friday the quantity of vacancies on the bench had reached a document excessive, with 75 open positions and one other 20 retirements anticipated on the finish of the 12 months.

Throughout his State of the Judiciary speech in Atlantic Metropolis, Rabner urged the state Legislature and Gov. Phil Murphy to hurry up the method of getting trial court judges nominated and confirmed. At present 17% of 433 trial court positions are vacant, he stated.

“The problem is simple to grasp. We need more judges to provide the level of service the public is entitled to receive. And we need help from the other branches to fix that problem,” Rabner stated.

The pandemic has additionally exacerbated vacancies. Rabner stated judges are prioritizing felony instances. The courts postponed in-person trials for greater than a 12 months and now roughly 6,800 defendants stay behind bars awaiting trial. With fewer judges and a backlog of pending felony trials, Rabner stated some courts have been compelled to delay trials for private damage instances by as much as 4 years — or have needed to cease scheduling trials for sure varieties of instances.

“In one vicinage, no divorce trials at all are being scheduled because there are not enough judges,” he stated.

Given the present emptiness fee, it can take 5 years from the date of submitting for the events to get to trial.

“For too many people who are unable to resolve their differences, their lives are on indefinite hold,” Rabner stated.

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