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The Supreme Court invites written comments on the attached proposal for virtual civil jury trials during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Judiciary’s Post-Pandemic Planning Committee on Resuming Jury Trials developed the proposal with discussion and detailed written input from members of the Working Group on COVID-19 Jury Operations, including the New Jersey State Bar Association, the New Jersey Association for Justice, the New Jersey Defense Association, and the Division of Law in the Department of Law and Public Safety. While those stakeholders universally supported some variety of virtual civil jury trials, each made individual suggestions that are to varying extents consistent with and different than the final recommendations as attached. The Court is considering the option of virtual civil jury trials as one way of supporting comprehensive court services while in-person events remain curtailed because of the COVID-19 virus.

Please send any comments on the proposal for virtual civil jury trials in writing by Wednesday, December 16, 2020 to:

Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D. Acting Administrative Director of the Courts Comments on Proposal for Virtual Civil Jury Trials Hughes Justice Complex; P.O. Box 037 Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0037

Comments may also be submitted via email to: Comments.Mailbox@njcourts.gov

The Supreme Court will not consider comments submitted anonymously. Thus, those submitting comments by mail should include their name and address (and those submitting comments by email should include their name and email address). Comments are subject to public disclosure upon receipt.

/s/ Hon. Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D.

Acting Administrative Director of the Courts

Dated: November 25, 2020

Notice – Proposal for Virtual Civil Jury Trials During COVID-19 – Publication for Comment – 11-25-20.pdf

In order to ensure that complaints against residential tenants for nonpayment of rent comply with the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES Act), 15 U.S.C. 9001 et seq., the Supreme Court in its July 14, 2020 Order temporarily relaxed Rule 6:2-2(a) to require plaintiffs/landlords to submit a CARES Act Compliance Certification. That certification must be filed by landlords in all nonpayment of rent cases filed during the CARES Act filing moratorium (March 27, 2020 through and including July 24, 2020, unless otherwise extended) before any pretrial/settlement conferences or trials are scheduled.

On July 28, 2020, Directive #20-20 (“Special Civil Part – Landlord/Tenant Matters During COVID-19”) set forth the requirements of newly implemented landlord/tenant case management steps, procedures, and forms, including a Federal CARES Act Compliance Certification form. (Attachment 6 to Directive #20-20). This Supplement to Directive #20-20 clarifies the procedures to be followed when a landlord fails to submit a CARES Act Compliance Certification in accordance with the Supreme Court’s July 14, 2020 Order.

If a landlord does not file the certification, before a settlement conference is scheduled, Judiciary staff will issue a Clerk’s Notice to the landlord, copying the tenant, advising that the landlord has 10 days from receipt of the notice to file the required certification. The landlord/tenant complaint will be administratively dismissed without prejudice if the certification is not filed within the 10-day period. The case may subsequently be restored to the active trial calendar upon the landlord’s filing of a motion, on notice to the tenant, attaching the completed CARES Act Compliance Certification.

Questions regarding Directive #20-20 or this supplement to that directive should be directed to the Civil Practice Division by phone at (609) 815-2900 x54900 or by email at civilwebsites.mbx@njcourts.gov.

Supplement to Directive #20-20 – Special Civil Part – Landlord_Tenant Matters During COVID-19 – CARES Act Compliance Certifications.pdf

The Supreme Court has amended the provisions of prior Orders governing COVID-19 remote court operations. Effective immediately, consent shall not be required for Family quasi-criminal (FO) matters to be conducted remotely. Courts shall continue to consider the legitimate needs of parties, attorneys, and others in determining whether an individual matter should be conducted in person rather than remotely. The Court’s November 19, 2020 Order is attached.

Questions about this notice may be directed to the Family Practice Division at (609) 815-2900 x55350.

/s/ Hon. Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D.

Acting Administrative Director of the Courts

Dated: November 19 , 2020

Notice – COVID-19 – Eliminating the Requirement of Consent in Order to Proceed Virtually with FO Cases – dated 11-19-20.pdf

Order – COVID-19 – Eliminating the Requirement of Consent in Order to Proceed Virtually with FO Cases – dated and effective 11-19-20.pdf

NOTICE TO THE BAR

November 18, 2020

The Bergen County Special Civil Part has created a protocol for the Filling, Use and/or Submission of Exhibits for Remote DC and SC Court Sessions. The protocol is intended to make the submission of exhibits for remote proceedings consistent, easy and to meet all IT judicial security requirements. *A copy of the full protocol is attached below.*

The Protocol should be followed for all remote trials in which a party intends to submit evidentiary exhibits. Please note that this is a general protocol. Individuals judges reserve the right to request submissions in a manner they deem appropriate on a case by case basis.

NOTICE: Special Civil Part Exhibit Submission Protocol.pdf

The New Jersey courts are continuing to provide comprehensive court services at all state court locations and the Administrative Office of the Courts.

As we have for the past eight months, courts at all levels are following a “remote first” approach to court proceedings and court events. Accordingly, matters that can be conducted remotely will continue to be done remotely, and certain matters that cannot be handled in a remote format will be conducted in person.

All State Courts Will Continue to Support Emergent and Critical Functions, Which May be Conducted in Person When Necessary

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The Supreme Court has immediately suspended new in-person jury trials and in-person grand jury sessions because of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Court’s November 16, 2020 Order (attached) is effective immediately and until further order.

Consistent with the Court’s October 8, 2020 Ninth Omnibus Order, virtual grand juries have been established in all counties. Existing virtual panels will continue to meet in a virtual format, and in-person panels also may be converted to convene virtually subject to the Judiciary providing technology and training as necessary to support all jurors in participating in virtual sessions. The end-dates for excludable time each have been extended by 45 days beyond the dates set in the October 8, 2020 Ninth Omnibus Order.

The New Jersey Courts will continue to operate in a primarily remote format with limited numbers of judges and court employees on-site and very few court events handled in person.

Questions about this notice may be directed to the Office of the Administrative Director of the Courts at (609) 376-3000.

/s/ Hon. Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D.

Acting Administrative Director of the Courts

Dated: November 16, 2020

Notice – COVID-19 – Suspension of New In-Person Jury Trials and In-Person Grand Jury Sessions; Revised End Dates for Excludable Time – 11-16-20.pdf

Order – COVID-19 – Suspension of New In-Person Jury Trials and In-Person Grand Jury Sessions; Revised End Dates for Excludable Time – 11-16-20.pdf

This Notice is to advise that as of this week, cash payments for child support can be made at local courthouses during the days and hours listed in the schedule posted on the Judiciary’s website. The option to pay cash over the counter at the Finance Division provides a no-fee option for court users with child support obligations. Additional options for paying child support are available as described on the Department of Human Services webpage. Especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, timely and consistent child support payments provide critical support for children throughout New Jersey.

More information about child support and related court matters is posted on the Judiciary’s COVID-19 resource page.

/s/ Hon. Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D.

Acting Administrative Director of the Courts

Dated: October 15, 2020

NOTICE Cash Payments for Child Support – Limited Reopening of Vicinage Finance Windows.pdf

***A copy of the full order is attached below.***

The Supreme Court has relaxed Rule 1:40-12(a)(4) (“Special Civil Part Settlors”) so as to expand resources for settling landlord/tenant matters during COVID-19. The Court’s September 30, 2020 Order is attached.

The New Jersey courts have committed to supporting tenants and landlords seeking to resolve eviction matters without trial during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, the Court has relaxed Rule 1:40-12(a)(4) to modify training requirements for individuals willing to serve as settlors for landlord/tenant matters. The Court’s action will supplement the pool of qualified landlord/tenant settlors by engaging certain qualified groups, as follows:

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From Bergen County Assignment Judge, Hon. Bonnie J. Mizdol: 

Hon. Joan Bedrin Murray:  The Chief Justice has informed me that Hon. Joan Bedrin Murray will be returning to Tax Court at year’s end.  Judge Murray has been a welcome addition to Bergen.  She has juggled a tax and foreclosure calendar with aplomb.  She will always be a part of the Bergen team; and will be sorely missed.  As Judge Murray transitions back to the Tax Court, Hon. Charles Powers, Retired on Recall, shall return to assist the Chancery Division with foreclosure stays.

 

Hon. Robert L. Polifroni, P.J.Cv.:  Despite my pleas to the contrary, Judge Polifroni has remained steadfast in his position and has tendered his retirement papers.  He will be leaving the vicinage as of February 1, 2021. He has brought to the Bergen bench expertise in all aspects of civil litigation and has been an invaluable resource to me as Assignment Judge.   Please join me in wishing him continued good health, a vibrant retirement and in celebrating his contributions to the Bergen bench for the last fourteen (14) years.