The days are getting shorter and the breeze is blowing colder – signs that fall has arrived. The colored leaves gather on the ground, trees are pruned and nature begins to retreat from the summer displays.
Fall is an essential time for preparation and rejuvenation – necessary for the new start of spring. The New Jersey Judiciary has also experienced an important period of preparation, fiscal pruning and rejuvenation, and we now have the gratification of seeing the flowering of many significant new beginnings.
September marked the addition of many new leaders in the Judiciary. A new Supreme Court justice began her term on Sept. 1, a new assignment judge is serving in Morris/Sussex Vicinage, and another new assignment judge is set to start in Atlantic/Cape May Vicinage on Nov. 1. New trial court administrators are now working in the Morris/Sussex, Ocean and Passaic vicinages. All are embracing the new challenges and opportunities of their positions.
In the criminal division, the Veterans Assistance Project has recently served its 1,000th client. This program is a combined effort of the Judiciary, the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health Services, to provide referrals to existing community services as well as mentors for veterans.
The family division has standardized their adoption procedures – making this important transition for so many families uniform throughout the state. This has included an updated form for adoption agency background checks of prospective adoptive parents.
The Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Access and Fairness in the Courts was initiated by the chief justice last December, in order to enhance the public’s confidence in the courts.
This initiative includes an emphasis on respect for citizens, opportunity for citizens’ voices to be heard, neutrality/equality in treatment and the objective that each court user experience a sense of justice and trust as the result of their court experience. This committee is creating a statewide campaign to focus on how the courts administer justice in the face of challenges such as the continued increase in the number of self-represented litigants, the economic pressures on litigants and to the courts, and the need to treat each case and each litigant with dignity and respect. I will be writing much more about our progress on this important initiative in future editions of JT Briefing.
In an effort to reach out to our growing Hispanic community, our programs and procedures unit has begun translating many sections of our award-winning website, njcourts.com, into Spanish. Pages that can be viewed in Spanish include an overview of the courts, directions and interpreting. Many others will be added.
A number of our publications have been translated into Spanish, and a new one, The Role of the Court Interpreter, also will be translated into Portuguese, Polish, Korean and Haitian-Creole – a first for the New Jersey Judiciary. The decision to translate this brochure into languages other than Spanish reflects our core value to provide quality service to an increasingly diverse population.
The civil division and Superior Court Clerk’s Office are facing a variety of challenges as the highly effective rob-signing of foreclosures program comes to a conclusion. The Judiciary will be utilizing many resources to efficiently and properly handle the large number of mortgage foreclosures, which impact so many people throughout the state.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank members of the Judiciary staff for their perseverance during Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. In the face of flooded roads and facilities throughout the state, court staff worked diligently to ensure that court closings were kept to a minimum and the public was able to be served as much as possible.
With our dedicated staff and a host of new initiatives designed to facilitate justice for all who are involved with our courts, the Judiciary continues to move forward into a period of even greater effectiveness and access to justice for all New Jersey citizens.