In case you were wondering, the New Jersey courts are open. However, there are severe limitations on attorneys and clients actually going to courthouses.†
For several years, most cases are being electronically filed with the courts. Two significant classes of cases were excluded however: landlord/tenant eviction cases, and Chancery cases. The court system always planned on expanding the eCourts program to include these cases, but now because of COVID19, it stepped up and created a separate filing system called JEDS. So now all civil cases can be filed electronically. This new system is in its infancy but we are hopeful that the bugs will be worked out.†
Most court personnel, including judges, are working from home. Attorneys who need to appear before a judge on a case do so telephonically. The court provides attorneys with conferences, hearings or oral argument of motions with dial in information, and these matters are handled by conference call on the record. The call is electronically recorded. Judges will then post their decisions and orders on eCourts for the attorneys to download.†
The courts are not scheduling any new jury trials at the present time, which will undoubtedly create a backlog when this hold is taken off. Only certain emergent matters may be scheduled in person in the courthouses.†
The period from March 28, 2020 through April 26, 2020 is considered to be a legal holiday for the purpose of computing time deadlines.†
Many court calendars are suspended through April 26, 2020.†
Attorneys need to be careful to check frequently for new notices affecting the operation of the court system during this pandemic.†
I do miss being in the courtroom to argue a case, but as someone else said, this is the new norm, at least for a while. I am in the office Monday through Friday, so keep me in mind if you need a civil case filed or defended.