On February 7, 2023, New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner
suspended all trials in the Civil Division
and matrimonial trials for the immediate future in two vicinages, comprised of six New Jersey counties due to the significant judge shortage the court system is facing. Due to the shortage, the courts are prioritizing proceedings that are emergencies, are time sensitive, or an individual’s liberty is at stake. The suspension will start on February 21, 2023, and applies to: Vicinage 13
which includes Hunterdon, Somerset, Warren; and Vicinage 15, which is comprised of Gloucester, Cumberland, and Salem counties.
For those counties, there are currently 14 judicial vacancies out of a total of 48 judicial positions. There are currently 69 vacancies statewide for the trial courts. Over the last three years, the courts have operated with an average of more than 50 vacancies, and that problem was further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since trial court judges in New Jersey are appointed, the burden is on the Executive and Legislative branches to address the crises and Justice Rabner called on them to do so. The statement noted that trials may be suspended in additional counties unless the situation is remedied.
By way of example, I was recently in one of the most populated counties in the state which is currently short eight judges, and currently has only two judges hearing civil cases. The judge shortage coupled with the COVID-19-related backlog in many counties has created a very difficult situation with some trials being pushed out 6-12 months from their originally scheduled date.
We will continue to monitor the situation and will advise of any further developments. If you have questions with regard to this change, please contact attorney Scott Best
at any time.
This blog is not a solicitation for business and it is not intended to constitute legal advice on specific matters, create an attorney-client relationship or be legally binding in any way.