Bill Text: NJ SR108 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Urges New Jersey Supreme Court to provide for attorney surveys evaluating municipal court judges.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2018-10-15 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee [SR108 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-SR108-Introduced.html

SENATE RESOLUTION No. 108

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED OCTOBER 15, 2018

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  DECLAN J. O'SCANLON, JR.

District 13 (Monmouth)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Urges New Jersey Supreme Court to provide for attorney surveys  evaluating municipal court judges.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


A Senate Resolution urging the New Jersey Supreme Court to implement certain procedures to evaluate municipal court judges.

 

Whereas, Fines and fees imposed in municipal court are a significant source of municipal revenue; and

Whereas, According to recent news reports, the relationship between New Jersey's 507 municipal courts and the municipalities creates challenges to the judicial independence of the municipal courts;

Whereas, A 2016 Asbury Park Press series, "Inside the Municipal Court Cash Machine," alleged that in some instances, municipal court judges may be hired specifically for their ability to impose high fines and fees; and

Whereas, The series also alleged that, due to the pressure on municipal courts to raise revenue, there have been incidents where fines and fees were imposed unjustly; and

Whereas, The Report of the Supreme Court Committee on Municipal Court Operations, Fines, and Fees, issued in June 2018, made a number of recommendations for reforms to the municipal court; and

 Whereas, One of the recommendations is to create an evaluation process for municipal court judges, allowing attorneys who practice before these judges to provide input; and

Whereas, Because the Supreme Court has oversight over the practice of law as well as oversight over the municipal courts, it would be beneficial for the Supreme Court to establish a system of surveys and questionnaires for attorneys who practice in the municipal courts; and

Whereas, The Supreme Court is respectfully urged to create a requirement that any attorney in the State seeking certification as a Certified Municipal Court Trial Attorney participate in surveys or questionnaires written by the Supreme Court, that evaluate municipal court judges; and

Whereas, Participation in the survey program would be optional for all other attorneys who practice in municipal court; and

Whereas, Under the program, the Supreme Court would establish  procedures requiring the attorneys to submit the completed surveys to the Municipal Court Presiding Judge and to the Administrative Office of the Courts for review and evaluation; now, therefore,

 

     Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.   The Supreme Court of New Jersey is respectfully requested to establish a survey program for the evaluation of municipal court judges.  Under the program, any attorney in the State seeking certification as a Certified Municipal Court Trial Attorney must participate in a survey or questionnaire, written by the Supreme Court, that evaluates municipal court judges.

     b.    Participation in the survey program would be optional for all other attorneys who practice in municipal court.

     c.     The attorneys would submit the completed surveys to the Municipal Court Presiding Judge and to the Administrative Office of the Courts for review and evaluation.

 

     2.    Copies of this resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, shall be transmitted by the Secretary of the Senate to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey and to the Administrative Director of the Courts.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This resolution respectfully requests the Supreme Court of New Jersey to establish a survey program for the evaluation of municipal court judges. Fines and fees imposed in municipal court are a significant source of municipal revenue. According to recent news reports, the relationship between New Jersey's 507 municipal courts and the municipalities creates challenges to the judicial independence of the municipal courts.  A 2016 Asbury Park Press series, "Inside the Municipal Court Cash Machine," alleged that in some instances, municipal court judges may be hired specifically for their ability to impose high fines and fees. The series also alleged that, due to the pressure on municipal courts to raise revenue, there have been incidents where fines and fees were imposed unjustly.

     The Report of the Supreme Court Committee on Municipal Court Operations, Fines, and Fees, issued in June 2018, made a number of recommendations for reforms to the municipal court.  One of the recommendations is to create an evaluation process for municipal court judges, allowing attorneys who practice before these judges to provide input. Because the Supreme Court has oversight over the practice of law as well as oversight over the municipal courts, it would be beneficial for the court to establish a system of surveys and questionnaires for attorneys who practice in the municipal courts.

     This resolution respectfully requests the court to create a requirement that any attorney in the State seeking certification as a Certified Municipal Court Trial Attorney participate in a survey or questionnaire, written by the Supreme Court, that evaluates municipal court judges. Participation in the survey program would be optional for all other attorneys who practice in municipal court. Under the program, the Supreme Court would establish  procedures requiring the attorneys to submit the completed surveys to the Municipal Court Presiding Judge and to the Administrative Office of the Courts for review and evaluation.

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