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Category Archives: Civil

Directive #23-06 (“Grand Jury Standards – Implementation and Questionnaire”) promulgated standard grand jury policies and procedures, including a standard charge to the grand jury (Attachment 3) and a standard oath of secrecy (Attachment 5). The grand jury standards as promulgated by directive #23-06 have been implemented statewide for over a decade.

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court on May 14, 2020 authorized a pilot program for virtual (video) grand jury sessions in Mercer and Bergen counties. Consistent with the Court’s May 14, 2020 Order, the Judiciary on May 15, 2020 issued a supplement to directive #23-06, which promulgated on a temporary basis a supplement to Attachment A (grand jury charge) and a supplement to Attachment B (secrecy oath). Those approved supplements have been issued to all county and state grand jurors convening in a virtual format during COVID-19.

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The Supreme Court’s Post-Pandemic Plan (issued June 10, 2020) outlined in general terms the transition from Phase 1 (fully remote operations) to Phase 2 (incremental return of limited numbers of judges and court staff to Judiciary facilities). Based on current public health recommendations and COVID-19 trends, the New Jersey courts will be expanding the scope of on-site court events, including for new jury trials, but without transitioning fully to Phase 3 as previously anticipated. For lack of a better description, the courts are now moving to “Phase 2.5.” This notice provides additional guidance as to events that may under appropriate circumstances be conducted on-site even while our court system overall continues to follow a “remote first” model.

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The Supreme Court has issued its Eighth Omnibus Order on Court Operations and Legal Practice during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A copy of the Order is attached.

This September 17, 2020 Eighth Omnibus Order continues certain adjustments necessitated during the COVID-19 period, including the prioritization of remote proceedings and permission for electronic signatures, remote or socially distanced depositions, and electronic service on the State of New Jersey. It also reinforces provisions of the Court’s September 17, 2020 Order on the first jury trials, including as to the additional option of conducting voir dire in a fully virtual format with the consent of the attorneys and parties and the approval of the trial judge.

The September 17, 2020 Eighth Omnibus Order includes the following new or updated provisions:

  • Grand Jury. Confirming that all counties are virtually selecting new grand jury panels, and providing that grand juries in all counties will be equipped and ready to convene in a virtual format on or before December 1, 2020;
  • Criminal. Continuing excludable time provisions through October 11, 2020; and
  • Civil. Relaxing Rule 4:64-8(b) during the term of the Federal Housing Administration’s foreclosure and eviction moratorium for borrowers with FHA-insured Single Family mortgages covered under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and HUD Agency Letter 2020-27, so as to provide that a plaintiff will not be required to file a new complaint to reinstate a foreclosure matter that has been dismissed twice for lack of prosecution.

Questions about this notice or the Court’s Eighth Omnibus Order 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: September 17, 2020

NOTICE (FULL NOTICE) Eighth Omnibus Order on Court Operations and Legal Practice.pdf

 

The Supreme Court has provided additional guidance on the first new jury trials to resume since the mid-March suspension of trials resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. As detailed in the Court’s July 22, 2020 Order and appended Plan for Resuming Jury Trials, new jury trials will be conducted in a hybrid format involving primarily virtual selection followed by socially distanced in-person trials.

The Court’s attached September 17, 2020 Order emphasizes that the resumption of jury trials is necessary to protect the rights of criminal defendants, including more than 2,500 indicted defendants who are detained awaiting trial, and for litigants in more than 9,000 ready civil cases. As with all aspects of COVID-19 court operations, the New Jersey courts will resume hybrid jury trials in a manner that supports the health and safety of all court users.

The Court’s September 17, 2020 Order clarifies and supplements the provisions of the Court’s July 22, 2020 Order as follows:

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The COVID-19 pandemic forced the New Jersey courts to suspend jury trials in mid-March 2020. Since the onset of the public health crisis, the Supreme Court has authorized temporary modifications to jury operations in order to safely resume criminal and civil jury trials as necessary to protect the rights of the people of New Jersey. This notice provides a comprehensive update on the rollout of hybrid jury trials, which will include primarily virtual selections and socially distanced in-person trials, and answers questions posed by attorneys and jurors.

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The New Jersey courts currently are conducting limited on-site court proceedings, with in-person socially distanced jury trials scheduled to begin in late September 2020. Consistent adherence to public health requirements remains critical to supporting the health and safety of all court users. At the same time, attorneys and clients must have appropriate methods to communicate with the judge and privately during in-person court proceedings. To that end, this notice provides a list of approved options for sidebar communications and confidential attorney-client communications during jury trials and other on-site proceedings. Additional options may be considered on a case-by-case basis, with court approval, taking into consideration facilities and individual participant needs (including language access services and ADA accommodations).

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As of this date we would like to update you on COVID-19 procedures and information regarding the partial reopening of the courthouse. Please note the following:

  • We are currently in Phase 2 of statewide reopening and, in accordance with the guidelines, 15% of the courthouse staff are in the courthouse buildings.
  • The courthouse is not currently open to the public for all proceedings. We will keep you informed of a projected opening date as we receive information.
  • Probation and drug court litigants are being seen and drug testing is being done by appointment.
  • Virtual Grand Jury continues.
  • Numerous virtual proceedings in Family, Civil, Chancery, and Criminal take place on a daily basis. We have received very favorable responses from attorneys who have commented on the efficiency of these proceedings.
  • Criminal trials and Civil trials will start on a very limited basis at the end of September.
  • Municipal court is working well and efficiently using virtual platforms.
  • There is no start date for Phase 3 at this time, wherein up to 50% of staff will be allowed in the courthouse building.

There have been major safety and health measures taken with respect to the reopening:

  • When entering the courthouse building there are thermal scanners in place. If you have a temperature of 100.4 or higher, you will NOT be permitted to enter the building.
  • Signage is placed throughout the courthouse with instructions on social distancing and wearing a mask in all public areas. Please bring your mask if you plan on coming to the courts.
  • Touchless hand sanitizer units have been placed in all hallways for public use.
  • Public intake areas are having plexiglass barriers installed.
  • Efforts are underway by the county to change all the bathroom faucets and toilets “no touch” systems.
  • Disinfectant wipe downs of all touch areas i.e. doorknobs, elevator buttons etc. are being done nightly by the county.
  • Social distancing floor stickers are being placed on the floor at all entrances and customer service areas to facilitate social distancing.

We will continue to provide you with updates in the future. I wish to thank your President, Joseph Maurice and your Executive Executive Director, Frank O’Marra, for their efforts to bring updated information to the Bergen Bar members.

NOTICE: Bergen County Courthouse COVID-19 Protocols.pdf

The Bergen County Judiciary, in conjunction with the New Jersey Judiciary, is continuing to take preventive measures to reduce risks of exposure to and transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus.  We continue to handle as many matters as possible by telephone, Zoom or Teams platforms.  However, during Phase II of operations certain in-person proceedings are being scheduled.

This is a reminder, especially during the peak of the vacation season, that should you have an in-person proceeding scheduled and have travelled to a quarantine impacted state as contained on New Jersey’s updated Quarantine Advisory, it is incumbent upon you to inform the court as soon as possible to allow for an appropriate quarantine time period.

Please know that you will not be permitted entry into the courthouse facilities until the required 14 day quarantine period has expired from the time of your last contact within the identified state.

We are being vigilant in our efforts to ensure the safety of all in the courthouse.  Therefore, in addition to the disclosure of travel to an impacted state, you have an obligation to disclose whether you have experienced:

  1. Fever (A Temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater);
  2. Symptoms (Cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, sore throat, muscle aches and pains, loss of taste or smell, any other unexplained illness);
  3. Close contact with anyone who has exhibited any of these symptoms; or
  4. Whether someone in your household or someone you have been in close contact that has tested positive for COVID-19 (Close contact with an infected person means within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more).

Your cooperation in keeping our courthouse safe for all who enter is much appreciated.

/s/ Bonnie J. Mizdol, A.J.S.C.

Dated: August 26, 2020

The new clerks will begin their 53 weeks of service on August 25th.  There will be overlap of law clerks from August 25th to August 31st.

Due to the change in the date for the Bar Examination, now October 5th and 6th, the new clerks will be off from September 28th through October 2nd  to study and the additional two days for the exam on October  5th and 6th.

Because the rescheduling of the Bar impacts motion calendars, the motion calendars will be adjusted as follows:

Original Dates         New Dates

August 7th                     August 7th to remain the same

August 21st                   August 28th to allow for a motion day overlap

September 4th             September 11th to allow new clerks to prepare 1st motion calendar

September 18th           September 25th

October 2nd                 October 16th to allow law clerks to study and take the exam

October 30th               October 30th to remain the same

***Disclaimer – The Full Order and All Attachments are attached in the link below for your review.***

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many efforts have been and continue to be made to assist landlords and tenants affected by the public health crisis and remove barriers to justice. The Judiciary is implementing a multifaceted plan for improving the handling of Landlord/Tenant (LT) cases from the outset, including by providing litigants with information and resources. Our primary goal is to assist litigants in resolving their matters, not dispose of cases through trial or default. No party will be pressured into settling their case.

The Judiciary has engaged with tenant advocates as well as landlord representatives to create the attached informational materials that will be distributed to all parties in LT cases. In addition, every vicinage, in coordination with their Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement Committees and Ombudsmen, is organizing virtual LT outreach events to provide litigants and others with up to date information on current court operations. Those outreach events, conducted in partnership with key stakeholders, will highlight local community resources that provide legal, financial, and other forms of assistance relating to rental housing and mortgage payments.

This Directive sets forth the requirements of newly implemented LT case management steps, procedures, and forms for (1) service of complaints and conferences; (2) CARES Act certification of compliance; and (3) Order to Show Cause process for LT trials in limited circumstances.

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