Public invited to testify on judicial independence in municipal courts

Enter Title

March 28, 2016

Contact: Kate Coscarelli 
Senior Managing Director of Communications

NJSBA to hold public hearings starting April 4 

There are upwards of 6 million matters handled in the state’s municipal courts each year. 
While the courts operate under the guidance of the state courts, they are also integrally tied to the towns where they are located.  
The New Jersey State Bar Association will hold a series of public hearings about issues facing the municipal courts, in particular about judicial independence. The goal is to gather information from lawyers, judges and members of the public. 
The hearings are the result of a recommendation the NJSBA’s Task Force on Judicial Independence, which spent 18 months examining the threats to a fair and impartial justice system and ways to keep it free from political influence, made to take a closer look at the issue in the municipal courts. 
At the request of the association’s Board of Trustees, the Municipal Court Practice Section is taking steps to do just that. The section created a Subcommittee on Judicial Independence in the Municipal Courts, which has scheduled four public hearings to be held across the state. 
The subcommittee, which is comprised of municipal court practitioners, prosecutors, and retired judges, released a statement explaining the goals of the public hearings: 
“The New Jersey State Bar Association’s Subcommittee on Judicial Independence in the Municipal Courts will consider the impact that fiscal constraints may have on the municipal courts and the inter-relationship that may exist in the appointment and the reappointment of the municipal court judges. The hearings will also address the impact of judicial independence on judicial salaries and the lack of tenure for judges in municipal courts.
The goal of the public hearings is to obtain anecdotal information from members of the bar, the Judiciary and members of the public that will enhance the operation of the municipal courts and ensure the independence of municipal courts in this state. The Subcommittee on Judicial Independence in the Municipal Courts seeks comments from new and experienced members of the bar, and the Judiciary, as well as members of the public, as to the independence and uniformity of the municipal courts in New Jersey,” the statement said. 
The public hearings will be held: 
April 4, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick 
May 2, from 5 to 7 p.m., at Rowan University in Glassboro
May 19, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., at the NJSBA Annual Meeting and Convention in Atlantic City 
June 6, from 4 to 6 p.m., at Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark 
To sign up to testify, submit materials to the subcommittee or learn more about the hearings, contact Kate Coscarelli, senior managing director of communications and media relations, at [email protected]