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  • Address: 15 Bergen St, Hackensack, NJ
  • Phone: (201) 488-0032
  • Email Address: info@bergenbar.org

Bergen Vicinage IT Manager Ron Bell will be sharing on a weekly basis helpful links regarding the use of Zoom technology for members of the Bergen County Bar Association.  This helpful Zoom links for this week are as follows:

  1. Here is a link to Zoom Meeting Plans and Prices:https://zoom.us.pricing  (Review the plans offered by Zoom and select one that best fits your needs.)
  2. Here is a link to a video on how to join a Zoom Meeting: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362193-How-Do-I-Join-A-Meeting
  3. Here is a link to a video on how to schedule a Zoom meeting through the Zoom website: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362413-How-Do-I-Schedule-Meetings- 

 

Clarification of April 28, 2020 Notice to the Bar regarding Electronic Discovery

This will serve as a clarification of the April 28, 2020 Notice to the Bar regarding Electronic Discovery.  As to the last paragraph of the notice, the Jail will confirm with Division Manager Darcy that the Defendant has received the discovery.

Modification of APRIL 29, 2020 Notice to the Bar Regarding Attorney Video Visitation

 This will serve as a modification of the April 29, 2020 Notice to the Bar Regarding Attorney Video Visitation.   There has been a change in personnel.   Attorneys will make a request for dates and times beginning Monday, May 4, 2020 for a video conference through the Bergen County Jail Law Library by emailing Ms. Jenith Velez at jvelez@bcsd.us rather than Ms. Keisha McLean. This request should include the attorney’s preference for time slots, between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., seven (7) days a week.

Clarification and Modification Notice to the Bar.pdf

 

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, the New Jersey Judiciary is implementing all possible measures to apply social distancing in current court operations, consistent with the recommendations of the New Jersey Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

By Order dated April 20, 2020, the Supreme Court established parameters for sentencing, as follows: (I) sentencing hearings may proceed using remote options (phone or video) only with the consent of all parties; and (2) courts have the authority to stay the commencement of the custodial term for certain sentences in Criminal, Family, and Municipal matters. This directive implements those provisions of the Court’s April 20, 2020 Order.

The attached guidance sets forth options judges should consider on a case-by-case basis for sentencing proceedings, including sentences to state prison, probation, county jail and juvenile facilities.

Please follow the link below and read Directive #13-20 which explains the Sentencing Guidelines During the COVID-19 public health pandemic provided by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Directive 13-20 – Sentencing Guidance During the COVID-19 Pandemic – 04-30-20.pdf

NOTICE TO THE BAR

Clarification of April 28, 2020 Notice to the Bar Regarding Electronic Discovery

This will serve as a clarification of the April 28, 2020 Notice to the Bar regarding electronic discovery.  All discovery, both electronic and paper discovery, must be dropped off at the jail.  Discovery cannot be emailed to the jail.  Laptops will be provided to inmates to view electronic discovery in the order of priority as outlined in the April 28, 2020 Notice to the Bar.  With this one clarification, the April 28, 2020 Notice to the Bar is in full force and effect.

Attorney Video Visitation

During the COVID-19 shutdown, effective Monday, May 4, 2020 the Bergen County Jail will temporarily implement video visitation for attorneys to visit their clients.  While the jail does offer attorneys the opportunity to meet with their clients in person through a window, we recognize that during the pandemic many are uncomfortable and unwilling to do so.

Please be mindful that the jail’s resources for this endeavor are limited, and this procedure requires dedicating staff to supervise the inmate/detainee.  At the present time, jail personnel are only able to accommodate one video conference at a time.  In order to accommodate as many attorneys as possible, conferences will be scheduled in thirty (30) minute blocks of time.

Attorneys will make a request for dates and times beginning Monday, May 4, 2020 for a video conference through the Bergen County Jail Law Library by emailing Ms. Keisha McLean (kmclean@bcsd.us).  The request should include the attorney’s preference for time slots, between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., seven (7) days a week.

An email will be sent to the attorney approving a time slot.  When the request is approved, the attorney will set up the meeting in ZOOM.  The attorney will then forward a meeting invitation with the link to legalvisit@bcsd.us.  The ZOOM technology allows for confidential, secure, unrecorded meetings.  It is up to the meeting moderator, in this case the attorney, to implement the technology in the correct manner, implementing the security and privacy options that ZOOM offers in the way that best meets the needs of the attorney and client.

The procedure for telephone conferences remains in place.  We hope this allows sufficient opportunity for attorneys to have productive meetings with their clients.

 

NOTICE TO THE BAR 

At the direction of Assignment Judge Bonnie J. Mizdol and Criminal Presiding Judge Margaret M. Foti, the Bergen Vicinage now institutes the following steps for attorneys who wish to request that their clients be scheduled for review of electronic discovery.

In an ongoing effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19 at the Bergen County Jail, Warden Ahrendt and Captain Russo have instituted certain protocols, including the suspension of inmates reviewing electronic discovery at the Law Library, unless a request is made by counsel or the court. In those instances, limited review sessions will be arranged. Electronic discovery includes Flashdrives/CDs dropped off at the jail or electronic discovery that is emailed. Of course, defense counsel is always free to drop off paper discovery to the jail – the jail will arrange delivery to the particular inmate.

It is understood that inmates pending Pretrial Detention hearings have the most urgent need to review electronic discovery. Under these circumstances, attorneys should email Criminal Division Manager Leslie Darcy, and request that their clients be scheduled to immediately review electronic discovery which has been previously supplied to the jail. The email should include the defendant’s name, complaint numbers and the total approximate time needed for review of the electronic discovery.

Most other defendants are not as time sensitive in their need to review electronic discovery. The review of electronic discovery is absolutely important in all cases, but particularly where the defendant is considering a plea offer or preparing for a motion to be heard. If an attorney learns that his/her client has not yet reviewed the electronic discovery, and if it is important to do so quickly, the attorney will notify the judge assigned to the case. The attorney will request that the judge expedite their review session for the inmate. The request must include the defendant’s name, indictment or accusation number, total approximate time needed for the review, and the date by which the defendant needs to complete the review.

The judge will forward the request to the Criminal Division Manager Leslie Darcy, who will communicate with Captain Russo to effectuate the request.

The Bergen County jail will keep Criminal Division Manager Leslie Darcy apprised of defendants who have completed their review of the electronic discovery. If an inmate refuses to review the discovery, the jail will notify Division Manager Darcy.

Notice to the bar.pdf

April 27, 2020

Please be advised that the Bergen County Courthouse remains closed for entry by the public until further notice. However, court proceedings are still being held by way of video and telephone conferences.

You have been scheduled for a hearing for a violation of pretrial monitoring on Thursday, May 14, 2020 at 1:30 PM. You will be able to appear via telephone. Please see the attached court notice for details as to your required appearance.

Please call 201-370-2641 or email BergenPTSMailbox@njcourts.gov before Tuesday, May 12, 2020 to provide the Court with a telephone number at which you will be able to be reached on Thursday, May 14, 2020.

If you do not have an attorney and wish to apply for a Public Defender, please include that information when you call or e-mail the Court. If you already have a Public Defender and wish to contact their office, please call 201-996-8020.

RE: Principles and Protocols for Virtual Court Operations During the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic – (1) Methods of Conducting Remote Court Events; (2) Access to the Public Record; and (3) Posting of Events Guidance 

By Order dated April 20, 2020, the Supreme Court reinforced our commitment to continuing the operations of the courts during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. This directive implements the Court’s Order and establishes guiding principles for when and how remote court events will be conducted, including which events will by default be livestreamed and which will require individualized permission for real-time participation or viewing. Consistent with our policy of transparency and public access, we will continue to provide access to video recordings, audio recordings, and written transcripts upon request.

Guiding Principles for Sustaining Court Functions During the COVID-19 Crisis

The protocols outlined in this directive, including the recommendations for each division of the Superior Court (Civil, Criminal, Family, General Equity, Probate, Special Civil, Municipal) reflect our ongoing efforts to balance the rights and responsibilities involved in continuing court operations in a virtual rather than in-person format. These principles are as follows: Read More

This directive promulgates the attached Supreme Court Guidelines on Media Access and Electronic Devices in the Courts (“Guidelines”), as approved by the Supreme Court to be effective immediately. The Guidelines supersede the Supreme Court Guidelines on Electronic Devices in the Courtroom promulgated by Directive #08-14 ( effective February 2, 2015, as supplemented on January 28, 2015).

The updated Guidelines are founded on the premise that any attempt to define media access in and around courthouses – and to regulate access to and use of electronic devices by court users – must bridge the gap between media access concerns and court security considerations.

Please follow the link below and read the one of the recent directive from the Supreme Court of New Jersey in regards to the recent guidelines on media access and electronic devices in the courts.

Directive #11-20 – Supreme Court Guidelines on Media Access and Electronic Devices in the Courts.pdf

 

NOTICE TO THE BAR

Last Thursday, April 16th, 2020, I participated in a Zoom Bench-Bar Meeting with your President, Joseph Maurice, Executive Director, Frank O’Marra, and the Chairs of your Civil, Family, Chancery, Criminal and Municipal Practice Committees.

My goal was to provide information about the new way we are doing the court’s business during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the meeting, I listened intently to the concerns of the Bergen Bar and am hopeful that I allayed some fears.   I wanted to reinforce that most court proceedings continue to be conducted remotely using video and/or phone options.

Just this morning, our Chief Justice issued a new Omnibus Order restating the judiciary’s commitment “to supporting court operations in a virtual format to the greatest extent possible, subject to constitutional considerations and the limitations of our finite resources.”  The Order speaks for itself, but provides that no civil or criminal jury trials will be conducted until further notice, that grand juries are suspended through May 31, 2020, as are Landlord/Tenant calendars and lockouts. Read More