Explanation of Authority and Structure
The authority for the existence of the Judiciary in New Jersey and its present structure, power, divisions, and functions can be found in Article VI of the New Jersey Constitution. It establishes a Judiciary made up of a Supreme Court, Superior Court, and other courts of limited jurisdiction.
The Supreme Court is responsible for making the rules governing the practice, procedure and administration of the courts of New Jersey, as required by Article VI, Section II of the New Jersey Constitution. The exercise of this obligation yields comprehensive rules contained in the New Jersey Court Rules. References to this authority are abbreviated as R. followed by a number, e.g., (R. 1:4).
Article VI, Section III of the New Jersey Constitution deals specifically with the Superior Court and outlines its divisions, powers and functions and establishes its authority for having original general jurisdiction throughout the state in all causes.
Ultimate responsibility for the administration of the Courts in New Jersey is the job of the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, the Honorable Stuart J. Rabner. He is assisted by the Acting Administrative Director of the Courts, the Honorable Glenn A. Grant.
The Morris County Superior Court and Sussex County Superior Court are organized into one judicial district, known as a vicinage. While there are 21 counties in New Jersey, each with their own Superior Court, there are only 15 vicinages. Local management of the vicinage is the responsibility of the Assignment Judge and the Trial Court Administrator (TCA). The Assignment Judge, in addition to having a caseload, has overall administrative authority in the vicinage. The Assignment Judge hears all probate cases, all cases involving challenges to governmental actions and a variety of cases scheduled in the Civil, Criminal, and Family divisions.
Under the general direction of the Assignment Judge, the Trial Court Administrator (TCA) oversees the non-judicial administrative responsibilities of the vicinage. The TCA is assisted by an Assistant Trial Court Administrator (ATCA), in Sussex. The ATCA participates in the planning and development of policy and procedures and assist with the oversight of day-to-day operations of the Courts. The Civil, Criminal, and Family Divisions each have a Presiding Judge who, in addition to his or her caseload, oversees the judicial functions of the division. Overseeing the day-to-day administrative functions of each division is a Division Manager. The Presiding Judges and Division Manages have their offices in Morris County but their responsibilities are vicinage-wide. Team Leaders in the Sussex County Civil, Criminal and Family divisions assist the Division Managers in the day-to-day operations.