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Category Archives: New Jersey Supreme Court and Administrative Office of the Courts

***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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The Supreme Court has issued the attached Ninth Omnibus Order on Court Operations and Legal Practice during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. ***A copy of the Full Order is attached below for your convenience.***

This October 8, 2020 Ninth 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 includes substantive changes designed to ensure that defendants detained without indictment promptly will have their cases presented to grand juries. To that end, the October 8, 2020 Ninth Omnibus Order includes the following new or updated provisions:

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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 by Order dated June 9, 2020 has required that all people who enter or occupy court facilities (including Judiciary areas of mixed-use facilities) must wear masks or other face coverings in community settings (e.g., entranceways, indoor parking garages) and common areas (e.g., courtrooms, elevators). It incorporates certain limited exceptions, including for medical need. The Court’s June 9, 2020 Order also references judicial discretion to remove their face coverings or masks when on the bench and to direct others to do so as long as social distancing is maintained.

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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 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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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to apply social distancing and other protective measures, the Judiciary by April 2, 2020 notice temporarily modified the procedures for applying for a protective order under SASPA, the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015. That temporary modification instructed litigants applying for a SASPA protective order to submit the completed application packet via email to the emergent mailbox either in the county in which the victim resides, the county in which the defendant resides, or the county where the act occurred.

This notice is to advise that where to submit the completed application for a SASPA protective order has changed. Those applications no longer should be submitted to the emergent mailbox, but rather should be sent through the Judiciary Electronic Document System (JEDS) at https://www.njcourts.gov/selfhelp/jeds.html. The SASPA application packet (CN 12590) has been updated on page 4 to reflect these new instructions.

Questions about this notice may be directed to the AOC’s Family Practice Division at 609-815-2900 ext. 55350.

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

Acting Administrator Director

Dated: August 13, 2020

NOTICE Revised Instructions for Submitting SASPA Protective Orders.pdf

The Supreme Court’s Post-Pandemic Plan (issued June 10, 2020) outlines 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). This notice provides additional guidance on current and future court operations, including as to ongoing monitoring and potential responses to statewide and local COVID-19 trends.

(1) On-Site Presence and In-Person Events

The Court’s Post-Pandemic Plan summarizes the phases of the gradual return to court facilities and in-person services as follows:

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