The pandemic has created an enormous backlog of services that people have gotten used to over the years. Everything from ordering furniture for the home to ordering supplies for businesses takes forever now. One of the most critical backlogs experienced by New Jersey state residents as well as people around the country is the backlog of court dates. From the beginning of January 2022, Passaic County officials reported that there were over 764 criminal cases backed up in the county's criminal court system. The key point here is that these cases are not considered pending cases. They are classified as overdue cases.
Representing a 67% increase since December 2020, this backlog means that a lot of people have been sitting in jail waiting for trial dates. In addition to the large number of criminal cases that are on hold, there are also a huge number of civil court cases and general equity cases that are backlogged. Some of the biggest numbers of those cases are tenant-landlord disputes, which number 5150 and rising.
The Numbers Across the State Are Just as Worrying
Passaic County isn't the only area of the state that is experiencing this backlog. Across the state, there's been a roughly 420% increase of backlogged cases, with a total number of 97,000 cases recorded in September 2021.
There are 1.6 million municipal cases, with over a million of them traffic cases, that are also backlogged. Many of those have been pending since November 2021. Hudson County had the most backlogged cases with 449,553. Bergen County had 152,000 backlogged cases, while Passaic County had 123,000 backlogged municipal cases.
Covid Distancing and Quarantining Requirements Have Made Things Difficult
Because there are Covid distancing and quarantining requirements that must be followed in order to attend court, the execution of in-person trials and appearances has been very limited. Because of this, the state judiciary officials put a moratorium on new jurors in court until January 17. Any attempts to hold in-person trials have been hampered due to Covid-19 diagnoses among jurors, defendants, lawyers, witnesses, and judges.
Fewer Judges Add to the Backlog
Another thing that has created a backlog has been a large number of court vacancies. In Passaic County, there are five long-standing judicial vacancies as of the start of January 2022. This makes it difficult to even try cases. The loss of judges in these vacancies represents years of losses in terms of judiciary productivity. This means that there are tens of thousands of cases that can't be prosecuted. The governor did make seven nominations for the court in December 2021, so the state hopes that this will alleviate some of the backlog.
How a Lawyer Can Help you Deal With the Consequences of the Backlog
If you're dealing with a situation where you need to appear in court, but your case is delayed because of the backlog, you're unable to move forward with your life. One of the most important things you can do is to get legal representation as soon as possible.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have years of experience helping their clients navigate the court process, and they understand how to get as much done while you're awaiting your court appearance so that you're fully prepared when your case is ready to be heard. Call 888-535-3686 now to get an evaluation of your case.