Remand Court to Move Cases, Cut Backlog
By Mike Mathis
JT Briefing Editor
Passaic Vicinage has started a remand court to expedite the disposition of downgraded cases and to reduce the case backlog in Paterson Municipal Court.
Individuals charged with indictable offenses and whose cases are downgraded to a disorderly offense during a pre-indictment conference have their cases adjudicated by the Passaic Vicinage municipal court presiding judge, sitting as a judge of the Paterson Municipal Court.
Passaic Vicinage Municipal Court Division Manager Thomas Jindracek said Paterson was selected for the remand court because the city has the greatest number of disorderly cases in Passaic County, and its municipal court has the highest backlog.
About 240 cases a month have been scheduled for the remand court, which began in mid-November, Jindracek said.
“By resolving cases at a very early stage, they don’t go into backlog,” Jindracek said. “We’re taking care of the cases now so they don’t hit the pipeline.”
Jindracek said there are no plans to expand remand court beyond Paterson, although he said offenses such as violations of restraining orders, violations of probation and conflict cases could be heard in the future.
Essex Vicinage has a remand court that handles cases with indictable charges that are downgraded by the prosecutor’s office to lesser offenses prior to the indictment stage.
“The vicinage has designed the Passaic Remand Court to take full advantage of the information technology infrastructure that is in place statewide,” said Robert Smith, assistant director of municipal court services at the Administrative Office of the Courts “It will help to improve the efficiency of the judicial system in Passaic County.”
Jindracek and Nicole Greten, administrative specialist 4, spoke with Passaic Vicinage Municipal Court Presiding Judge G. Dolph Corradino last year about reducing backlogs in the municipal courts.
Trial Court Administrator Kirk Nixon and now-retired Assignment Judge Robert J. Passero approved a proposal for the remand court, but its implementation was postponed until after the appointment of Donald J. Volkert Jr. as assignment judge.
Corradino hears cases on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Jindracek said.
Remand Court is staffed by employees of the Paterson Municipal Court and the municipal court prosecutor and public defender. Dominic Palumbo, criminal division manager and team leader Donna Hoffman also are involved.
Jindracek cited the importance of cooperation between the courts, the prosecutor’s office, the public defender’s office and the city in launching the program.
“There is a truly a partnership between us,” Jindracek said.