It’s no secret that the COVID pandemic has delayed all kinds of trials in NJ state courts. The courts were generally closed for the last two years and several counties either remain closed or are still holding trials via Zoom. In addition to COVID, the courts have a significant shortage of judges.

Civil parts of the court are often given the least resources (read: judge’s time). Criminal defendants have a constitutional right to a speedy trial. So criminal part is where most limited court resources go. Family cases also have time-sensitive elements, such as custody issues or domestic violence orders. Civil cases are generally about money, which typically doesn’t have an expiration date.

At the recent NJ State Bar Association Annual meeting (where my friend and colleague Jeralyn Lawrence was installed as State Bar President — congrats!), Chief Justice Stuart Rabner detailed how bad things are at the state courts.

  • There are currently 75 judicial vacancies.
  • Complex cases will get a trial roughly 3-4 years after filing the complaint.
  • Some case types are being postponed indefinitely.

Mediation and arbitration can help resolve your civil case fairly, rapidly and inexpensively. While civil cases are given the lowest priority in the court, most cases need resolution. Litigants get sick or die, often need the money, and need to not have the case hanging over their heads. Just because there is no imminent trial, it doesn’t mean that the level of costs and stress are lower. Discovery, which is usually the most costly part of litigation, still continues in the hopes of a trial.

To find out more about how mediation or arbitration can help resolve your lawsuit or dispute, please contact me.