NJSBA Urges Immediate Action to Fill Judicial Vacancies

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For Immediate Release
August 13, 2014
Kate Coscarelli
Senior Managing Director, Communications
New Brunswick -- The New Jersey State Bar Association called on Gov. Chris Christie and Legislative leaders to address the ongoing crisis of judicial vacancies.
NJSBA President Paris P. Eliades sent a letter noting that with 52 vacancies on the state's trial bench and another 12 looming, judges are struggling to resolve residents' disputes, and court officials have had to take drastic measures, including imposing limitations on some cases.
Below is the text of the letter sent to Governor Chris Christie, Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Minority Leader Thomas Kean Jr., a copy of which was sent to every member of the Senate.
August 12, 2014
Dear Governor Christie, Senate President Sweeney and Senate Minority Leader Kean:
New Jersey's judiciary is facing a crisis.
With 52 vacancies and another 12 looming, our judges are stretched beyond reason. They are struggling to meet the justifiable needs of the citizens of this state who have every right to look to their courts to settle their grievances in the manner contemplated by the constitution and our democracy. As a result of these unprecedented numbers, judges are carrying staggering caseloads and court officials are turning to desperate measures, leading to delays and hardships for people seeking divorces, the resolution of business disputes and many other cases.
In recent years, these measures have forced Assignment Judges in Essex and Union county to halt the consideration of certain cases and just last week Bergen County imposed limitations on family and civil trials. The staggering number of vacancies means that such measures are likely to increase if immediate relief is not provided.
As Bergen County Assignment Judge Peter E. Doyne said last week in published reports: "I have asked everyone to work harder, but there is only so much to be done."
The solution lies in your capable hands.
We urge you to put aside any personal and political differences and focus on the constitutional mandate to fill these trial court vacancies immediately. Court officials should not be compelled to resort to the extraordinary measures of limiting the types of cases that can be heard because there are simply too few judges. We entreat you to act swiftly before the very real ramifications of these judicial vacancies are felt beyond the courthouse.
Most respectfully,
Paris P. Eliades
President, New Jersey State Bar Association