Lagana Bill to Ease Court Backlog Exacerbated by Judicial Vacancies Released by Assembly Panel

Bill Allows Retired Justices & Judges Collecting Pension or Retirement to Temporarily Called Back to the Bench until 85 years of age

Legislation Assemblyman Joseph A. Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic) sponsored to allow more retired judges to be temporarily brought back to the bench to help ease backlogs created by judicial retirements that are threatening to delay family and civil trials in Bergen County was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

“People going to court expect a resolution, but they face having their cases linger indefinitely as there are just not enough judges to hear them,” Lagana said. “This problem is not limited to Bergen County. It is affecting our courts statewide.”

The bill (A-3587) would make judges and justices who are retired and collecting a pension or retirement allowances eligible for recall duties until they are 85 years of age.

“The judicial shortage is slowing the court system,” Lagana said. “This bill hopes to ease the problem by extending the age limit for retired judges to be brought back to the bench. Right now a retired judge can only be recalled until they are 80 years old. This bill codifies the recall guidelines and extends the age limit to 85, allowing more judges to be temporarily recalled to hear these cases and prevent further delays.”

Subject to rule of the Supreme Court, any justice of the Supreme Court who has retired on pension or retirement allowance may, with his consent, be recalled by the Supreme Court for temporary service in the Supreme Court or elsewhere within the judicial systems, and any judge of the Superior Court, juvenile and domestic relations court, county district court or tax court who has retired on pension or retirement allowance may, with his consent, be recalled by the Supreme Court for temporary service within the judicial system other than the Supreme Court.

The bill was released by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.