By Mike Mathis
JT Briefing Editor
The New Jersey Supreme Court traveled to Gloucester County on Dec. 1 to hear arguments in a 19th century courthouse in Woodbury and tour the new addition to the county’s justice complex several blocks away.
The court’s visit to Gloucester County was planned to mark the completion of the county's court expansion project.
The three-story addition to the justice complex, which is located several blocks from the old courthouse, has nine courtrooms, a jury room, and offices.
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said the addition, which was dedicated in November, provides plenty of space for jurors, attorneys who need privacy to speak about sensitive matters and staff.
“I had a chance to walk through the new space, and it was extraordinarily impressive,” Rabner said during the ceremony in the old courthouse, which dates to 1885. “It touches so many aspects of the Judiciary and provides new, tasteful and adequate space for each of them.
“There is so much to be proud of,” the chief justice said.
More than 150 judges, lawyers, dignitaries, and students from Rowan University, Rutgers School of Law-Camden, Villanova University and Cumberland and Gloucester and County Colleges attended the session and heard arguments in three cases.
The court then met with the students for a question-and-answer session before the justices headed to the justice complex for lunch and a tour.
“We’re proud of Gloucester County,” said Gloucester County Freeholder Director and state Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, who invited the court to sit in Woodbury earlier this year. “We think it’s a first class county. And we actually have the facilities to prove that.”
The court’s visit to Gloucester County marked the fourth time since the adoption of the 1947 New Jersey constitution that established the modern Supreme Court that the court heard arguments outside of Trenton.
The most recent was in February, when the court sat in Newark to celebrate the opening of appellate division chambers in the city and to bring the high court’s proceedings to the public. The seven justices heard three cases in a new mock trial courtroom at Rutgers School of Law-Camden in March 2009.
The first time the court heard arguments outside of Trenton was in 1975, when a malfunctioning water treatment plant in Trenton forced the justices to relocate to Morristown.