Divorce and civil cases halted in 6 New Jersey counties amid judge shortage


State Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner cited an overwhelming. Number of judicial vacancies in Hunterdon, Somerset, Warren. Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties.
Most divorce and civil cases in six New Jersey counties will not be handled. As the state grapples with a judge shortage, officials announced Tuesday.

Divorce and civil cases halted in 6 New Jersey counties amid judge shortage

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. Said there are judicial vacancies in Hunterdon. Somerset, Warren, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties.

Calling the situation “particularly challenging,” he said in a news release. “Now there are not enough judges to handle both civil and matrimonial cases.”

There are 69 vacant positions in the trial court, more than 1 in every 6 positions statewide, Rabner said. Twenty of the 13 judicial positions are vacant in the vicinage. Or district that includes Hunterdon. Somerset and Warren counties. There are nine vacancies among the 28 judges in 15. Of the counties comprising Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties.

“This places a heightened burden on current judges who handle thousands of proceedings. And motions each month,” Rabner said.

He said that for the last three years the court has been working with an average of 50 vacancies. Due to the shortage, combined with the impact of the Covid pandemic. To best serve the public, the number of vacancies should not exceed 25 or 30, Rabner told NorthJersey.com.

Rabner warned in his statement that without relief. Other counties could find themselves in a similar situation.

The suspension around 13 and 15 will begin on February 21. Except in “very limited circumstances,” Rabner said, without elaborating. The New Jersey court did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. Cases where people’s “liberties are at risk” are prioritized, including criminal. And juvenile delinquency cases, and those that present potential emergencies. Such as domestic violence cases, he said. .

“We recognize that when courthouse doors are closed. Even partially – those who deserve their day in court suffer a real loss. So we respectfully call on the executive and legislative branches. To address the current vacancy crisis in Vicinages 13 and 15. As in the rest of the state ,” Rabener said. “We look forward to resuming all operations in both neighborhoods as soon as possible.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s office said Tuesday that he is “committed. To ensuring New Jersey court vacancies are filled. By highly qualified individuals who prove unwavering integrity

Since 2018, when he took office. 101 judges have been nominated and confirmed, including 45 last year. Another 17 nominations await Senate confirmation.

Last year, the New Jersey Bar Association demanded. That Murphy fill the vacant positions as quickly as possible. In a letter dated February 2, 2022. The association said the number of vacancies “has been allowed to grow in the full boil of the crisis.”

“While some consider the discussion of judicial vacancies to be a mystical matter. It has very real consequences for members. Of the public and business owners who go to court to resolve disputes. For several years. There have been too few judges serving on the bench, resulting in Too many people are waiting for justice. The need for action is real and must happen now,” the association said.

Murphy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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