For immediate release:July 27, 2004
For further information:Contact: Tammy Kendig
Office of Communications (609) 292-9580
New Jersey Courts Continue Dynamic Backlog Reduction; Down 54 Percent Since 1999
The New Jersey Judiciary continued its dynamic 5-year trend of reduction in backlogged Superior Court cases, Judge Richard J. Williams, Administrative Director of the Courts, announced today. His remarks accompanied the release of the Judiciary's Court Management Report for court year 2004. The New Jersey Courts reduced the backlog of old cases by nine percent last year, extending a trend in backlog reduction that has seen backlog drop by 54 percent since 1999. The reduction in backlog has resulted from the implementation of aggressive case management strategies and best practices standards, major initiatives of Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz.
In addition to these initiatives, Judge Williams credited the improvement to the hard work of judges and staff. "Our remarkable achievements in backlog reduction are due to the hard work and dedication of our judges and staff, who are committed to providing timely justice to the citizens of this state," he said.
In the past 5 years the Judiciary reduced the overall number of backlogged cases from 57,709 to 26,369, a reduction of 54 percent. The Family Division has reduced its overall backlog by 79 percent over the past 5 years. That reduction includes a 94 percent decline for backlogged domestic violence cases; an 87 percent backlog decline for cases involving child support, custody and/or visitation (non-dissolution cases); a 74 percent decline for backlogged abuse/neglect cases; a 71 percent decline for dissolution (divorce) cases; and a 20 percent decline for termination of parental rights cases. In addition, the backlog of child placement review cases has been reduced by 98 percent since 2002, the first year that time goals were established for that case type.
The progress involved every division of the Court. The number of special civil cases in backlog has been reduced by 70 percent since 1999. The number of backlogged civil cases has dropped by 53 percent during that same time period. General equity backlog has fallen by 47 percent since 1999. Criminal backlog has been reduced by 18 percent.
The data for court year 2004 (July 1, 2003 through June 30, 2004) shows that 1,063,476 cases were filed, an increase of 3 percent over the prior year. During the same period, backlog was cut by 9 percent, from 28,952 to 26,369 cases. At year-end, 88 percent of all cases pending in the courts were within established time frames for resolution.
The highlights of the 2004 report include a 27 percent reduction in backlogged Family Division cases, with a 27 percent reduction in dissolution cases, a 22 percent reduction in domestic violence cases, and a 16 percent reduction in delinquency cases. The Civil Division achieved a 29 percent reduction in special civil cases, a 5 percent reduction in civil cases, and an 8 percent reduction in general equity cases. The Criminal Division achieved an 8 percent reduction in the number of cases in backlog, for the lowest number of backlogged cases since 1980.
Some of the most dramatic reductions have been achieved in cases that involve children and families in crisis. This year's report shows that as of June 30, 2004 all but 4 counties had totally eliminated any backlog of child placement review cases, with the 4 remaining counties showing a total of only 6 cases in backlog. There were 7 counties in the state with no domestic violence cases in backlog, and another 8 counties with 1 or 2 backlogged cases for that case type. There were 6 counties in the state with no abuse/neglect cases in backlog, and another 9 counties with 1 or 2 backlogged cases for that case type. In addition, 3 counties had no juvenile delinquency cases in backlog, and another 5 counties had 3 or fewer backlogged cases for that case type.
"Reducing the number of older cases and resolving current cases promptly have been high priorities for us. The citizens of New Jersey deserve quality justice-and that means timely justice," said Judge Williams.
The year-end Court Management Statistics report is available online at http://www.njcourtsonline.com.Click here for 5-year backlog data. (PDF)