Judge Delays Adds to Essex County Court Backlog

Governor Christie’s decision last week to withdraw eight New Jersey Superior Court nominees in Essex County has created another delay in filling the 22 vacancies in New Jersey’s busiest vicinage. It is unclear as to what will happen now in terms of whether the governor will resubmit the judicial nominations at some later point or if he will decide to submit all new recommendations for the jobs in time for the Legislature’s fall session.

Nominees included Jeffrey Beacham, of Florham Park’s McGivney & Kluger; Linda Lordi Cavanaugh, the Berkeley Heights Township administrator; David Cohen, the director of the Office of Employee Relations in the governor’s office; former Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Neil Jasey; Newark Municipal Court Judge Bahir Kamil; Deputy Attorney General Marysol Rosero; Richard Sules, of Stockschlaeder, McDonald & Sules in New York; and West Caldwell solo Marcella Matos Wilson.

According to NJ.com, Essex vicinage is slated for 57 judges; currently there are 35 sitting judges. This has led to the vicinage using retired judges to hear cases and transfer other judges from other vicinages for temporary assignments. However, even with these measures, the judicial vacancy crisis has created an incredible backlog for the Essex court system.

As one attorney told the NJ Law Journal, “I’ve had attorneys in divorce cases telling me they’ve had four different judges in cases that have lasted three years. That’s never a good thing.”

What does this mean for you? The issue of court delays in the overtaxed Essex vicinage courts is nothing new, but the notion that relief will be coming this summer now seems more remote. If you are currently in a contested matter and frustrated by delays or reschedulings in court hearings due to the shortage, it might be worth taking a second look at methods of alternative dispute resolution that provide the opportunity to settle your matters out of court. These include collaborative divorce, arbitration and mediation.

Each ADR method has pros and cons you should be aware of, but on the “pro” side of why people choose to settle out of court includes saving on time and money, two perks those experiencing the court backlog in Essex may be interested in learning more about.