In 2022 in New Jersey, nearly 15% of all Superior Court judgeships remain vacant, causing major issues in the legal community in the state. This means that defendants with criminal cases pending are facing unusually long delays as they wait to get scheduled for hearings. One key area where this can cause significant issues is with defendants and petitioners waiting for final restraining order hearings, or "FRO" hearings.
Judicial Vacancies Have Majors Impact on Defendants and Petitioners
The FRO is issued at the final stage of the restraining order process. When a petitioner files for a restraining order, they do so to get protection from alleged abusers or assailants. If a judge decides to issue the order, they'll issue what is called a temporary restraining order. That order will remain in effect until the FRO hearing is held, usually ten days after the initial order was issued. If the judge determines that the temporary restraining order should be made permanent, they'll issue the FRO. The FRO will remain in effect indefinitely, or unless the victim makes a request with the court to vacate the order.
With the court vacancies in NJ, FRO hearings are among the types of cases that are facing a backlog. This can put enormous stress and strain on both the petitioner and the respondent. The petitioner wants to have the final order issued so that they can rest easy that they have protection in place that isn't going anywhere. Thanks to the delays, they won't get that peace of mind for months instead of days.
Respondents are also put in a bind during this process. They are bound by a temporary restraining order that they're unable to fight or defend themselves against until the FRO hearing. The temporary order can have negative consequences on many aspects of their lives, and violating it is a crime that could land them in jail.
Even if people are able to go before a judge, they may worry that they're going before a judge who's dealing with an overloaded docket. It's completely within reason to assume that judges with heavy caseloads may not be able to give each case that comes before them the time and attention it deserves.
Seek Out Legal Advice for Delays Affecting Your FRO Case
If you're dealing with the fallout from the judicial vacancies in New Jersey, your best bet is to reach out for legal help from attorneys who can help you navigate the system and help you figure out the next steps.
Joseph D. Lento and the team at the Lento Law Firm have years of experience dealing with the court system in New Jersey, and they may be able to help you navigate the system - such as it is - so that you face minimal repercussions from delays that are out of your control.
Contact the firm today at 888-535-3686 so that you can keep your case moving forward.