For immediate release: July 30, 2003
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New Jersey Courts Report Continued Progress in Resolving Cases Quickly: Backlog at Historic Low
The New Jersey Judiciary continued its success of the past several years in dramatically reducing the number of cases characterized as backlogged, according to a report released by Administrative Director of the Courts Judge Richard J. Williams. The New Jersey Judiciary Court Management Report, June 2003, shows the lowest backlog totals since 1980, the first year for which comparable data is available.
The report also indicates that 87 percent of all pending New Jersey court cases are now within expected time goals for resolution assigned by the Judiciary. This figure includes 94 percent of all Family Division cases, 82 percent of civil cases, 96 percent of special civil cases and 61 percent of criminal cases.
Cases that are not resolved within expected time frames are termed "backlogged." The number of backlogged cases dropped from 31,270 on June 30, 2002 to 28,952 on June 30, 2003.
"We are pleased that our ongoing efforts to improve the timeliness of our calendars has been successful," said Judge Williams. He added, "We know that resolving disputes in a fair and timely manner is important in earning the trust and confidence of our citizens."
The reduction in backlog was led by the Family Division, which achieved a 24 percent overall reduction in backlogged cases, including a 25 percent reduction in divorce cases, a 29 percent reduction in domestic violence cases, a 24 percent reduction in delinquency cases, and a 45 percent reduction in backlog for non-dissolution cases.
The Civil Division, which began a best practices initiative in September 2000, continued its significant backlog reduction of past years with a 7 percent decline in backlogged cases this year. The Special Civil Part of the Civil Division, which deals with cases seeking damages below $15,000, as well as landlord-tenant and small claims matters, saw changes in the Rules of Court which led to a 10 percent increase in filings. As a result, that part of the Civil Division was unable to cut its backlog any further during the year.
The Criminal Division continued its reduction in backlog for indictable cases by another 5 percent, for the lowest backlog in twenty years.
Judge Williams attributed the ongoing reduction of backlogged court cases to strong leadership and commitment at the county level. "Our judges, administrators, and staff have made backlog reduction a priority," he said. "They work hard every day to improve the timeliness and effectiveness of the litigation process in New Jersey."
The full text of the report is available on the Judiciary's Web site at www.njcourtsonline.com. The report includes terms and definitions, data on each county and statewide numbers.