Message from the Assignment Judge
Dear Community Member,
I am pleased to welcome you to our Courts. As the Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey - Essex Vicinage, I am the chief judicial officer in this vicinage. My role is to oversee the efficient management and supervision of all court matters.
The Essex Vicinage is the largest vicinage in the state. Our courts hear thousands of cases annually. The court complex has five buildings that house approximately 50 judges and 1,000 employees. The newest of the four buildings is the Robert N. Wilentz Justice Complex, 212 Washington Street, which houses the Family and Equity courts, as well as the Child Support Enforcement office. The Hall of Records and the Historic Courthouse, which primarily houses civil courtrooms, and the Veterans Courthouse, where most criminal cases are heard, join at West Market Street. The Probation Division is located at 60 Evergreen Place in East Orange.
The buildings are all rich in their individual histories, but the Historic Courthouse is of particular interest. The building was designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert, who designed the United States Courthouse and the Woolworth Building in Manhattan and the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. It also houses some of the most highly regarded artwork of 20th century American artists. Gutzon Borglum created the landmark Lincoln statue at the foot of its steps. He is the same world-renowned sculptor who carved the monumental images of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt in the side of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and the Lincoln bust in the rotunda of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. After undergoing years of restoration, the building was re-opened in 2004.
The vicinage has many special programs designed to enhance the fulfillment of our mission. We have an Information and Community Relations Center where staff answer questions, host court tours and organize speaking engagements and special events. We also have an ombudsman to address concerns about the court.
Our Jury Division has educational materials to inform jurors about their important role in the judicial process. The Criminal Division has a Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) for early intervention in the lives of offenders and an innovative Drug Court that is a probation alternative. Drug Court helps defendants address the underlying problem and end the cycle of drug dependency and criminal behavior. The Civil Division has mediation and arbitration programs, including two Landlord/Tenant Masters, that offer opportunities to settle disputes without traditional litigation. The Family Division has numerous programs that offer faster and less adversarial means of resolving disputes, such as the Family Mediation Program and the Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel. The Family Division also sponsors other programs designed to educate juvenile offenders such as the Juvenile Auto Theft Prevention Program. Many of our programs use volunteers who are both attorneys and lay persons.
The judges and staff of the Essex Vicinage recognize that without public trust and support, the court cannot fulfill its mission. We value your input and look forward to serving you. Again, I personally welcome you to the vicinage and hope that you find your visit productive and meaningful.
PATRICIA K. COSTELLO, A.J.S.C.