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Category Archives: Bergen County Superior Court

NOTICE TO THE BAR

By Order dated May 14, 2020, the Supreme Court authorized empaneled grand juries to reconvene in a virtual (video) format, subject to modified protocols to maintain the secrecy and solemnity of the proceedings. The pilot program will begin promptly in Mercer and Bergen Counties. A copy of the Court’s Order is attached.

The Court’s action implements the recommendation of the Working Group on Remote Grand Jury Operations (Working Group), which includes representatives of the Attorney General’s Office, the Office of the Public Defender, the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey (CPANJ), the ACLU, the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA), and the private defense bar. The Working Group recommended testing virtual grand jury operations as a first step in restarting those aspects of the criminal justice process that have been stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual grand jury sessions will be conducted using secure Zoom technology. Court staff will provide training on how to participate in virtual proceedings and real-time technical assistance during sessions. Technological devices and supports also will be provided to jurors as needed to enable effective participation. Consistent with the Court’s Order, a supplemental charge will be issued to the grand jury, and all jurors will be required to swear or affirm a supplement to the standard oath of secrecy regarding confidentiality requirements in a virtual setting.

The Supreme Court will assess the results of the pilot program in determining whether and how to expand virtual grand jury operations to additional counties and State Grand Jury.

Virtual grand jury sessions are another way that the New Jersey courts are ensuring uninterrupted access to justice during the COVID-19 crisis and as we seek to establish a new kind of normal. Questions should be directed to the Office of the Administrative Director at (609) 376-3000.

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

Administrative Director of the Courts

Dated: May 14, 2020

Notice and Order – Virtual Grand Jury Pilot Program – As Signed – 05-14-20.pdf

 

 

Follow the link below and read the updated policy from the Supreme Court of New Jersey in regards to the required usage of facemasks when inside courthouses and court facilities. This notice effectively supersedes memos and supplements established on April 3rd and April 17th.

Memo – COVID-19 – Revised Policy on Masks and Face Coverings – As Signed – 05-08-20.pdf

NOTICE TO THE BAR

The New Jersey courts are committed to continuing court operations during and after the COVID-19 public health emergency. Sustaining and expanding meaningful access to justice throughout this unprecedented emergency requires a careful and considered balancing of interests. To that end, by Order dated May 5, 2020, the Supreme Court confirmed that the Judiciary Electronic Document Submission (JEDS) system launched in early April is an approved electronic filing system, and that all documents submitted through JEDS are filed upon receipt and deemed electronically signed.

The JEDs system was established pursuant to Rule 1 :32-2A(a) and serves as an approved electronic filing system for the trial divisions of the Superior Court and for the Tax Court. The electronic signature of documents filed in JEDS, as with the electronic signature of documents filed in eCourts, satisfies the signature requirements of Rule 1:5-6.

By that same May 5, 2020 Order, the Court supplemented and relaxed the filing requirements of Rule 1 :5-6 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Documents are deemed filed once transmitted through eCourts or JEDS. The trial court will issue deficiency notices where a document submission is missing information necessary to proceed with the pending court matter. Filers will be provided ten (10) days following the notice to correct matters covered by Rule 1 :5-6(c)(1) pursuant to the Court’s rule relaxation. For a deficiency that is not corrected, the document will remain filed subject to objections by adversaries and pending a decision by the assigned judge.

Additionally, where a document is electronically filed in the wrong venue, the wrong division, or the wrong case type, the court will redirect that document to the correct venue, division or case type without the need for a court order.

Attorneys are required to file in eCourts where eCourts is available. Those case types for which eCourts is available include Criminal, Civil Law, Special Civil DC, Foreclosure, Family- Children in Court, and Tax Court. Where eCourts is not available for a case type, attorneys must electronically file all documents in JEDS with the trial divisions of the Superior Court and the Tax Court, except that probate and guardianship documents will continue to be filed with the County Surrogate. For non-eCourts case types, attorneys are required to file both emergent and non-emergent matters in JEDS. When an attorney files a document in JEDS where eCourts is available for that case type, the filing will be dismissed by the clerk without a refund of the filing fee.

***A copy of the Supreme Court’s May 5, 2020 Order is attached.*** 

Questions regarding this notice may be directed to Superior Court Clerk Michelle M. Smith at (609) 815-2900 ext. 54200 or michelle.smith@njcourts.gov.

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

Acting Administrative Director of the Courts

Dated: May 8, 2020

Notice and Order – COVID-19 – Electronic Filing in eCourts and the Judiciary Electronic Document Submission (JEDS) System – Attorneys Required to File in eCourts Where Available.pdf

 

NOTICE TO THE BAR

As a further step in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting disruption to the courts and the legal system, the Supreme Court this week issued the attached May 4 order temporarily allowing attorneys licensed in another United States jurisdiction to provide needed pro bono legal services to individuals and small businesses affected by the public health crisis.

The basis for the order is the Court’s determination that the COVID-19 public health emergency constitutes an “emergency affecting the justice system,” thereby invoking Rule 1:21-10 which provides for this temporary authorization to practice in New Jersey.

The Court’s Order will enable in-house counsel and other attorneys not licensed in New Jersey to provide those critical services on a pro bono basis. The out-of-state attorney seeking to provide pro bono legal services must not be disbarred, suspended from practice, or otherwise restricted from practice in any jurisdiction, and must be supervised by an attorney licensed and in good standing in New Jersey. The supervising attorney must file a certification with the Supreme Court regarding all attorneys who provide pro bono assistance through this avenue

Questions about this notice should be directed to Superior Court Clerk Michelle M. Smith at Michelle.Smith@njcourts.gov or (609) 421-6100.

***Please follow the link below to see the attached notice.***

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

Acting Administrative Director of the Courts

Dated: May 6, 2020

Notice and Order – Temporarily Authorizing Out-of-State Attorneys During COVID-19 to Provide Pro Bono Legal Services Under Supervision.pdf

Supervising Special Civil Part Judge, Hon. Joseph G. Monaghan, wishes to advise the Bar that he is available to any litigant who would like to schedule a settlement conference on any Special Civil Part matter – whether it be Special Civil Part (DC); Small Claims (SC) or a Landlord Tenant (LT) matter. This opportunity is open to all cases including self-represented litigants. If your adversary is represented by counsel,  you must communicate with your adversary prior to contacting the court. If your adversary is self-represented, you can contact the court without first calling your adversary, for the sole purpose of requesting the conference. To schedule a conference, you need only contact Judge Monaghan’s chambers at (201) 221-0700 (25465). Be prepared to provide the name of the case; docket number; and telephone numbers of the attorneys and/or litigants (cell numbers are usually the most productive).  A settlement conference will be scheduled thereafter.

Criminal cases are being scheduled throughout the week. Law clerks are reaching out to attorneys in advance regarding scheduling and also on the day of the virtual Zoom appearance if there are delays in hearing a particular case. Adjourn dates are placed on the record and a notice is uploaded to ecourts.

Applications for Drug Court may be completed electronically and applications are on-line. TASC is able to do evaluations. There will be a virtual Drug Court graduation on May 21.

Attorney visits with Bergen County Jail inmates may be scheduled with the jail by sending an email request to jvelez@bcsd.us. The visits are confidential.

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.