Search News & Press Releases

Lack of state judges has reached crisis level – NJSBA President Domenick Carmagnola Op-Ed

April 28, 2022
For Immediate Release
Contact: Thomas F. Nobile
New Jersey State Bar Association President Domenick Carmagnola wrote an op-ed published by The Record on April 21 on the critical need to fill judicial vacancies and the crisis facing the public as a result.
Read the op-ed below.
Opinion: Lack of state judges has reached crisis level
Domenick Carmagnola
Guest Columnist
The term ‘unprecedented’ has weight and heft in the legal world. It is used in circumstances where meaningful change has occurred, and what is happening in New Jersey’s Judiciary is truly unprecedented.
While the world emerges from a pandemic, our legal system suffers through an epidemic of gridlock, burnout and injustice caused by the growing number of judicial vacancies. Every day that passes without addressing the problem bangs deeper the dent in the public’s trust that its justice system works fairly and efficiently for them.
There are currently 73 Superior Court vacancies statewide out of 463 judge seats. That number will grow to an historic high of 75 by the beginning of May. An additional 22 judges are expected to leave the bench by the end of 2022. And to make matters worse, the state Supreme Court – currently operating with only six justices – will lose another to retirement in July.
The vacancy rates plague each vicinage in the state, from the smallest to those that process the most cases. Essex County, the county with the state’s largest caseload, is missing roughly 20% of its judges — Atlantic County is operating without a quarter of its judges, and Mercer County is down almost a third.
Simply put, a justice system this devoid of judges is unsustainable.
The problem is compounded by a rising backlog in court cases due primarily to the pandemic. While the Administrative Office of the Courts made great strides in keeping the courthouse doors open since 2020 through virtual hearings and events, certain court matters were inevitably put on hold.
Pending cases in landlord-tenant matters have jumped more than four times, from 11,316 in February 2020 to 46,369 in February 2022, the AOC says. Pending domestic violence cases have jumped 86.2%, from 1,869 in February 2020 to 3,480 in February 2022. And post-indictment pending criminal cases are almost 50% higher than before the pandemic.
It’s a two-pronged crisis—cases continue to pile up, yet there is a dearth of judges to adjudicate them.
The ripple effect is profound. Judges and their staff risk burnout from shouldering the overflow of cases. The average citizen with a legitimate legal gripe may turn away from the justice system. And, more significantly, those criminal defendants detained pre-trial, will continue to languish in jail.
Unfortunately, there’s no single reason for the vacancies. What we have is perfect storm of causes: the pandemic taking focus off judicial nominations, the governor’s office not nominating people who will get approval from their home county senator, and senators unable to form a consensus on nominees. Couple that with the societal effects of judges opting for early retirement, and you have a full-blown crisis.
The New Jersey State Bar Association is proud to play an integral role in the review of judicial candidates through the Hughes Compact. We have worked vigilantly to review all candidates presented, and have ramped up those efforts.
But we need the Governor’s Office and the Legislature to put the judicial crisis at the center of their attention. It is their duty to ensure that the residents of our state have a court system with adequate resources to address their matters efficiently, effectively and without undue delay.
We urge the governor to nominate and the Senate to provide its thoughtful advice and consent on as many qualified judicial candidates as possible.
Domenick Carmagnola is the president of the New Jersey State Bar Association. He is a founding partner at Carmagnola and Ritardi, LLC in Morristown.

Contact: NJSBA Communications Department
Tel: 732-937-7527
Email: [email protected]


Founded in 1899, the NJSBA is the largest organization of attorneys, judges and legal professionals in New Jersey. At the core of our mission is improving the lives of our members, advancing the rule of law and serving as the voice of the profession. With 85 sections and committees, the NJSBA allows attorneys to benefit from being part of the most wide-reaching legal association in the state, while still cultivating expertise and building networks within specialized practice areas.



The New Jersey State Bar Association is committed to promoting and fostering a diverse and inclusive bar association. The Association recognizes that the broad concept of diversity includes race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, age and disability. The NJSBA fosters and promotes an inclusive environment that gives value to the unique contributions of diverse individuals and organizations in all aspects of the Association.

Learn More


The NJSBA Legal and  Government Affairs Department serves as the liaison between NJSBA members and the state’s three branches of government.


The New Jersey Law Center is located at 1 Constitution Sq, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901. Need directions to the Law Center? Click on the button below to get started right away.

Contact NJSBA

NJSBA Contact Us Form
If you're looking for an attorney, click here for help.

If you cannot afford an attorney and have a civil matter, click here for Legal Services of New Jersey.

Looking for information about a specific lawyer? Contact the Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection at 855-533-3863.

Have a complaint about a lawyer? Visit the Office of Attorney Ethics website. Select “Attorney Discipline” from the navigation bar for discipline of attorneys.

Contact Info

One Constitution Square
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday - Friday

Fax 732-249-2815

Email us

NJSBA Meetings and Events Calendar

From section, committee and division meetings with valuable CLE credit, to receptions and dinners and special events, the New Jersey State Bar Association regularly holds meetings so our members can meet their mandatory CLE requirements and network with the state’s largest attorney membership.

View Calendar

2024 Annual Meeting & Convention

The New Jersey State Bar Association is thrilled to announce the 2024 Annual Meeting & Convention will be held at the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa May 15-17

For more information, or to register today, visit the links below:

View more information

2024 Mid-Year Meeting

The New Jersey State Bar Association is thrilled to announce the 2024 Mid-Year Meeting will be held at The Shelbourne Hotel, Nov. 2-9

For more information, or to register today, visit the links below:

View more information

Practice HQ Training Events

Lawyers aren't taught practice management skills, and the NJSBA is here to fill the gap — no matter whether you are just starting out, mid-career or thinking about wrapping up their practices. Our PracitceHQ is here to help with webinars, informative articles, free consultations, comparison charts and so much more.

Practice HQ Training Events


The new NJSBA member benefit Decisis will help you level-up your legal research.

Decisis gives members access to a robust database of local and federal case law is necessary information often used to structure your case. Decisis provides industry-leading tools to make legal research easier and more intuitive, and it’s a free benefit to all active New Jersey State Bar Association members.

Decisis Training Events

Networking Events

The NJSBA provides a host of networking events so members can maintain relationships with existing colleagues and make new connects. Join us at a baseball game, the hockey arena, for a community service project, or another event.

Upcoming Networking Events

Benefits Of Membership

As a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA), you will join a powerful network of 16,000 legal professionals across the state of New Jersey. NJSBA membership grants you access to year-round virtual and in-person networking events, leadership and professional development opportunities, member-only discounts, educational resources to help you stay in the know and much more!

Practice Management Tools

The NJSBA provides tools lawyers need to improve their practice, from our comprehensive PracticeHQ library of resources; a career center to find your next colleague or opportunity; an intuitive and high-powered legal research platform; and a robust Member Assistance Program to connect members, and those who live in their households, with experienced counselors and resources to address mental health needs.



As an NJSBA member, you'll become part of the collective power of the NJSBA network, giving you the ability to influence legislation and caselaw in New Jersey. Let’s work together to shape the future and solve critical issues facing attorneys and the public.

Become a Member Today!


Membership helps you build and maintain a powerful network through our in-person and online events with attorneys all over the state.


Become a Member Today!

Become A Partner Organization

The New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) offers an exclusive partnership opportunity to amplify your organization’s impact and drive success. By harnessing the power of the NJSBA legal community, you can connect with our vibrant network of 16,000 legal professionals from 35+ different areas of practice, unlocking unparalleled opportunities for growth and achievement.


News and Press Publications

Learn more about the accomplishments of the Association, its members and events from regular news updates, press releases, and our award-winning magazine.



Read the comments, reports, resolutions and Board of Trustee news from the state’s largest organization of lawyers, judges and legal professionals.


Statements and Positions

The NJSBA is the voice of the profession and takes public positions on a range of issues with the legal community and government officials. It also takes positions on legislation and files friend-of-the-court briefs on matters that impact the profession. 

Photo Galleries

Check out photos from recent NJSBA events.

View Photo Albums

You do not have permission to view this form.