On October 27, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an Order updating the framework for court operations to allow more in-person proceedings. The new Order supersedes those previously issued that had limited in-person court proceedings while COVID-19 posed a heightened risk to the health and safety of the public.
While virtual proceedings in most cases are still an option, and in fact are encouraged by the Court, the Order has given the discretion whether to hold proceedings virtually or in-person to the presiding judge, and in some cases left it up to the consent of the parties.
The Order applies to all levels of the court system, including municipal courts. The Order generally provides for the following when determining if a proceeding will be in-person or held virtually:
- Municipal matters that will generally proceed in person but can proceed virtually if all parties agree:
- Cases involving DWI,
- Refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test,
- Disorderly persons,
- Domestic violence, and
- Other matters that involve a reasonable likelihood of a jail sentence or loss or suspension of a license.
- Matters that will proceed in-person but may be conducted virtually at the discretion of the court, without consent from the parties to proceed virtually include:
- Matters involving numerous parties or attorneys or substantial documentary evidence,
- Matters that require on-site interpreting services,
- Matters in which a party has failed to appear for, been unable to participate in, or neglected the solemnity of a prior virtual proceeding,
- Settlement or status conferences in which previous virtual sessions have not meaningfully advanced the matter toward resolution or trial, and
- Specifically for municipal courts, matters that affect health and safety.
Absent individualized reasons to proceed in person, all routine case management conferences and routine motion arguments should proceed virtually. For municipal courts specifically, all matters that do not involve a reasonable likelihood of a jail sentence or loss or suspension of a license should proceed virtually.
Please review the Order with your municipal court administrator for more information.
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., Associate General Counsel, FMarshall@njlm.org or 609-695-3481 x 137.