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Category Archives: Covid-19 Notices

NOTICE TO THE BAR

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 COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the New Jersey courts have transitioned from in-person to virtual court proceedings in nearly all areas. However, grand jury sessions have been suspended for two months and remain unable to resume in an in-person format based on public health risks.

The Supreme Court on May 14, 2020 authorized a pilot program for virtual (video) grand jury proceedings in Mercer and Bergen counties, as one method of enabling criminal matters to move forward during this unprecedented crisis. As outlined in the Court’s May 14, 2020 Order, a number of additional safeguards are required before those virtual (video) grand jury sessions can begin. Those precautionary measures include reissuance of the standard charge to the grand jury, plus an additional supplement to that charge, and the requirement that all grand jurors reaffirm their oath of secrecy and swear or affirm a supplement to that oath. Consistent with the Court’s May 14, 2020 Order, this Supplement to Directive #23-06 promulgates on a temporary basis a supplement to Attachment A (grand jury charge) and a supplement to Attachment B (secrecy oath). Those approved supplements will be issued to all grand jurors convening in a virtual (video) format in the pilot counties.

Questions or comments regarding this Directive Supplement should be directed to the Office of the Administrative Director at (609) 376-3000.

Attachments: (1) COVID-19 Supplement to the Charge for Grand Juries

Convening in a Virtual Format (2) COVID-19 Supplement to the Oath of Secrecy for Grand Juries Convening in a Virtual Format

***Please follow the link below to view these additional attachments.***

Supplement to Grand Jury Charge and Oath of Secrecy for the Virtual Grand Jury Pilot Project (Supplement to Directive #23-06).pdf

The Bergen County Criminal Part Judges are handling Criminal Matters by utilizing technology to enable the parties to appear remotely. Please the schedule below for the month of June for the assigned Criminal Part judges to handle emergent matters. Of course, this schedule is subject to change if the Courthouse opens to the public sooner.

  • June 1 and 2: Judge Vinci/Judge Sattely
  • June 3 and 4: Judge Catuogno/Judge McGrogan
  • June 5 and 8: Judge Kazlau/Judge Wilcox
  • June 9 and 10: Judge Foti/Judge Bachmann
  • June 11 and 12: Judge Vinci/Judge Sattely
  • June 15 and 16: Judge Catuogno/Judge McGrogan
  • June 17 and 18: Judge Kazlau/Judge Wilcox
  • June 19 and 22: Judge Foti/Judge Bachmann
  • June 23 and 24: Judge Vinci/Judge Sattely
  • June 25 and 26: Judge Catuogno/ Judge McGrogan
  • June 29 and 30: Judge Kazlau/Judge Wilcox
  • July 1 and 2: Judge Foti/Judge Bachmann
  • July 3: HOLIDAY

NOTICE TO THE BAR

May 13, 2020

The Bergen County Surrogate’s Court has extended electronic services to complete applications for appointment as Guardian of Minor’s Property resulting from a Friendly Hearing held in Superior Court. Electronic Services to complete the appointment shall take place on a limited basis on the first and third Friday afternoons of the month from 1:00 – 3:00pm.

To make application for appointment as guradian of a minor’s property, the guardians must provide a copy of the child’s birht certificate and social security card, both parents’ photo identification, name and address of any siblings, a valid email address and telephone number, proff of residence, a copy of any consents (if applicable), a copy of the court order entered at the time of the friendly hearing, and the processing fee. Upon receipt of same, an appointment will be made to take electronic signatures via Webex.

Be well,

/s/Michael R. Dressler, Surrogate

Deputy Clerk, Superior Court

Chancery Division, Probate Part

5/13/2020 Notice to the Bar.pdf

Due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, the Office of the Bergen County Clerk will continue to remain closed to the public. However, we have been able to “keep the wheels turning” and carry out many of our functions due to the efforts, innovation and adaptability of my diligent staff.

Here is a current update concerning what the office has been able to accomplish under these challenging conditions:

  • REGISTRY DIVISION: The office continues to receive land record transactions by mail or electronically (E-Recording). Working with the Office of the County Executive, we have been able to distribute laptops to employees so that they can carry out these functions from home. Eleven employees are working to verify these processed documents in order to make them available to the public.
  • LAND RECORDS MANAGEMENT DIVISION: This division has continued to remain functional and open to title searchers on a very limited, rotational and secure basis. Following the approval of our request by the County Administrator on March 18, 2020, we initially permitted title searchers access from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm. To further diminish any potential exposure, we are now strictly limiting the title searchers to alternating every other day during the same hours. Everyone is required to wear a face covering or mask. The searching area has been completely disinfected and title searchers’ stations are more than 10 feet apart.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

John Hogan (Bergen County Clerk) 201-336-7006, jhogan@bergen.nj.us

Steve Shong (Deputy Clerk) 201-336-7030, schong@co.bergen.nj.us

Carlos Soto (Supervisor of Land Records Management) csoto@co.bergen.nj.us

Kathy Ciolko (Supervisor of E-Recording) kciolko@co.bergen.nj.us

Antoinette Kqira (Supervisor of Paper Processing) akqira@co.bergen.nj.us 

CLERK’S OFFICE NOTIFICATION.pdf

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

May 7, 2020

This notice announces additional statewide steps by the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation to address the ongoing public health crisis surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in New Jersey.

In accordance with Governor Murphy’s Executive Orders to slow the spread of the virus, all N.J. workers’ compensation courts shall continue to be closed to the public and to nonessential court personnel until Tuesday, May 26, 2020.

All twenty-six Judges of Compensation previously assigned by the Director and Chief Judge of Compensation shall continue to hear as many workers’ compensation matters as possible in their assigned vicinage by telephonic conferencing, and if possible by video conferencing, including all emergent and non-emergent matters, including trials, pre-trial conferences, motions for medical and temporary benefits, general motions, and settlements.

There will be no in-person Workers’ Compensation Court proceedings (except for extremely limited emergent matters and certain ongoing motions for medical and temporary benefits and trials, in which case social distancing will be enforced).

Court offices will remain closed for in-person submissions. Filings will continue to be accepted electronically through COURTS On-line.

Please contact each individual workers’ compensation court if you have questions about a scheduled hearing, motion, conference, or other matter by email, fax, or telephone.

Hon. Russell Wojtenko, Jr.

Director and Chief Judge of Compensation

N.J. Department of Labor & Workforce Development

Division of Workers’ Compensation

WC Courts Closed To Public 5-26.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