This holiday season is a time to celebrate our appreciation for our families, friends and careers, to be grateful for all we have.
It’s also the perfect time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished for the citizens of New Jersey and what the New Year ahead could bring.
As I wrote in our annual report, the strides we’ve made this year will have a positive impact on our courts and our communities for generations.
Our drug court and veterans assistance programs are helping restore the lives of individuals by returning offenders to society as responsible, productive citizens.
In our civil courts, alternative resolution programs such as our foreclosure mediation program are helping people resolve their disputes outside of the courtroom.
And our family courts are working in the best interest of our youth, striving to ensure permanency for children placed out of their homes. We are helping to reduce the number of kids who will suffer the long-term effects of detention while increasing the number of youths who benefit from restorative justice programs that require them to acknowledge their victims and take responsibility for their actions.
We’ve joined with hospitals and safe houses across the state to help victims of domestic violence apply for temporary restraining orders without going to a courthouse. Through the Hospital to Court Safety Assistance Project and the Safe House to Court Safety Assistance Project, domestic violence victims can appear before a judge via videoconferencing if they are being treated in an emergency room or have sought refuge in a safe house.
We continue to focus on technological improvements that will help us manage our caseloads more efficiently.
The Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Access and Fairness in the Courts, which I chair, 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.
This initiative includes an emphasis on respect for citizens, opportunity for citizens’ voices to be heard, neutrality/equality in treatment and the goal that each court user experiences a sense of justice and trust as the result of their court experience.
Most importantly, however, the holiday season, in my opinion, is about family. It is about coming together and celebrating our connection with loved ones and friends. It is about the thoughtfulness, kindness and concern for our fellow man. It is about recognizing and appreciating changes that have occurred in our lives from last season to this season.On behalf of the Judiciary, I wish you and your family a happy holiday and a healthy new year.