While the pandemic continues to impact individuals and businesses, efforts to bring a sense normalcy back to daily life are apparent across the state. One such effort is the reopening of New Jersey Courts. While this is happening, the reopening is occurring slowly.
Back in June, 2020 a three phase plan was instituted by the Administrative Office of the courts. Phase One was to have fully remote operations. While Phases Two and Three had gradual increase in the number of judges and staff who would be permitted on site. Phase Two was capped at 10 – 15% while Phase Three permitted 50-75 % of judges and staff to return. However, the judiciary found it necessary to amend their original plan and institute Phase 2.5 which permitted a maximum of 25% of judges and staff to return. We currently remain in Phase 2.5 and there is no set date for Phase Three to take effect.
Phases 1 through 2.5 have seen matters such as simple matrimonial trials, chancery and probate matters be conducted by zoom or similar virtual platforms. A handful of civil jury trials have also been able to have been conducted statewide. A new directive allows for criminal and civil jury selection and trials on site while allowing judges to use their discretion to bring in matters into their courtrooms.