Search News & Press Releases

Message from NJSBA President Domenick Carmagnola on judicial vacancies

June 21, 2021
For Immediate Release
Contact: Kate Coscarelli
732-937-7548
   
New Jersey State Bar President Domenick Carmagnola wrote an op-ed published by NJ.com/The Star-Ledger yesterday on the critical need to fill judicial vacancies in the face of a 'perfect storm' facing the state's judicial system. 
    
Read the op-ed here or read it below.
     
A crisis is looming if more judges aren’t appointed quickly 
     
When Judge Glenn A. Grant, the administrative director of the state’s court system, testified before the state Legislature in April that a perfect storm was about to thrash New Jersey, he sounded an alarm that has been ringing unchecked for more than a year. More recently Chief Justice Stuart Rabner described the rate of vacancy on the trial bench in New Jersey as “unsustainable” and the equivalent to losing 90 years of judge time, in a state of the judiciary speech in May.
     
Regardless of how you describe it, these judicial vacancies have now created a problem in our court system that must be addressed without delay. Failing to do so will likely result in damage that could take years to rectify.
     
Simply put, the vacancy crisis comes at the worst possible time, and it can no longer be ignored.
     
Consider the facts: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Administrative Office of the Courts has indicated that nearly 200,000 cases between tenants and their landlords are expected to be filed by year’s end. Pre-pandemic that caseload hovered around 12,500 cases. More than three times the number of criminal matters are now pending, and thousands of defendants are currently detained in jail waiting for trials.
     
With nearly 70 judicial posts vacant, more than 20% of the trial court bench is empty as cases of all types continue to stream in. These vacancies represent judges who handle important matters across every aspect of the judicial system — from family disputes to housing issues, to business and commercial disputes, to criminal charges. These vacancies impact all the citizens of New Jersey and have reached what can be only described as crisis levels.
     
As we together begin to take the shaky steps of emerging from this pandemic, the governor and our lawmakers in Trenton must address this unprecedented emergency in our judicial system. The residents of our state deserve a court system that has the resources to address their matters efficiently, effectively and without undue delay.
     
Some observers have said that because courthouses have been largely closed to the public our judges are not working or are not working hard enough. Nothing could be further from the truth.
     
As someone who is involved in court matters and interacts with judges and lawyers every day, I speak with the weight of the largest organization of lawyers in the state, and as a voice for its members, when I say our judges are not just working hard, they are working to absolute capacity fitting in hearings and other duties in early mornings, evenings and weekends to help stem the tide of cases.
     
The court system is at its limit in terms of what can be handled by the current complement of judges. Since March 2020, the courts have held 156,000 remote events with more than 2 million participants. There have been more than 419,000 case dispositions and 259,000 motions decided during the pandemic. That has included hundreds of in-person sentencings; thousands of family, civil, municipal and tax court motions, conferences and hearings; the issuance of 5,200 indictments; plus virtual jury selection and jury trials and the settlement of hundreds of civil cases.
     
The New Jersey State Bar Association is proud to play an integral role in the review of judicial candidates through the Hughes Compact. Though the process is confidential, I can confirm we have worked vigilantly throughout the pandemic to review all candidates presented. And we are prepared to double down on those efforts to assist in the selection and nomination process.
     
At the end of June, the Legislature is expected to take the traditional break following consideration of the budget, which will likely extend from July through the elections in November. While we appreciate the efforts of the Governor’s Office and the Legislature during the pandemic, we cannot take a break from this judicial crisis. Many of these vacancies have existed for years. The time to address the matter is now.
     
We urge the governor to nominate and the Senate to provide its thoughtful advice and consent on as many qualified judicial candidates as possible and to do it as soon as possible.
     
There is no time to wait.
  

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

About


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 attorney 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.

MORE ABOUT NJSBA

Diversity


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

Advocacy


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

Directions

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

732-249-5000
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 Family Law Retreat


The New Jersey State Bar Association is thrilled to announce the 2024 Family Law Retreat will be held in Costa Rica!

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

View more information

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

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

Decisis


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.

 

Advocacy


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!

Networking


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.


 

Reports


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.