Lagana Introduces Bill to Ease Court Backlog Exacerbated by Judicial Vacancies

(PARAMUS) – Assemblyman Joseph A. Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic) has introduced a bill that would 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.

“These individuals took their grievances to court expecting a resolution. Now they face having their cases linger indefinitely as there are just not enough judges to hear them,” said Lagana. “This problem is not limited to Bergen County. It is affecting our courts statewide.”

According to media reports, starting Sept. 15, all family and civil trials expected to last more than two weeks will be suspended in Bergen County because of the county’s growing judicial vacancy rate. The directive was made by Bergen County Assignment Judge Peter E. Doyne due to the judicial shortage. The county is allotted 36 judicial slots, but is currently down to six judges, and will have even fewer after September when three more judges retire from the bench, according to media reports.

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

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.

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.