NJ Supreme Court Order Provides Framework For Post-Pandemic Remote and In-Person Court Proceedings

On November 18, 2021, the New Jersey Supreme Court entered an Order addressing whether proceedings in state courts should be conducted in person or virtually as the COVID-19 pandemic ends. In doing so, the Supreme Court stated that it tried to balance “the reduced time and cost associated with virtual proceedings” with the benefits of “bringing parties together in person at certain critical junctures, including settlement conferences and proceedings that involve especially serious penalties or consequences.”

The Order contemplates a transition from almost all in-person court proceedings before the pandemic to a future that uses technology to provide “expanded options for access, participation, timeliness, and justice.” With that goal in mind, the Supreme Court set forth a series of general principles, which are summarized as follows:

  1. Judges have discretion to determine whether to conduct court proceedings virtually or in person, subject to the provisions of this Order.
  2. Criminal jury trials shall proceed in person, while other proceedings in the criminal process shall generally proceed in person, but may proceed virtually with the consent of all parties.
  3. Oral arguments before the Supreme Court and the Appellate Division; settlement conferences in the trial divisions of the Superior Court; and certain criminal court proceedings that involve defendants not in custody shall proceed in person.
  4. The following matters will proceed in a virtual format: motions and case management conferences; uncontested guardianships; most probate matters; foreclosure mediations; uncontested divorces; uncontested adoptions; hearings to establish or modify child support; applications for temporary restraining orders and, hearings and trials in municipal court.

The Supreme Court relied upon the input of judges, court personnel, comments from the general public, legal stakeholders and numerous individual attorneys in developing the general principals set forth above.  Looking forward, the Court recognized that “in light of the evolving nature of court operations, the provisions of this Order are subject to ongoing review.

The NJ Supreme Court Order on the Future of Court Operations is annexed here – [gview file=”https://vanarellilaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/NJ-Supreme-Court-Order.pdf”]

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