AN OVERVIEW OF THE NEW JERSEY JUDICIARY’S WEB SITE
Joseph M. Aronds, President-Elect, NJCCA
The New Jersey judiciary’s web site (“Web Site”) has the following URL: www.judiciary.state.nj.us, but it also may be accessed by typing www.njcourts.com into a web browser. The Web Site provides a wealth of useful information. This article is being provided as a service to the NJCCA’s membership as a guide to understanding the kinds of information available to the public on the Web Site. Due to the large amount of information available on the Web Site, this article merely provides an overview of the kinds of information available and not a comprehensive discussion of everything that the Web Site provides.
Entering the URL will bring you to the Web Site’s Home Page. Along the top of the Home Page are several “pull down” menus under the following headings: Courts, Forms, General Information, Legal, News & Publications, Opinions, and Programs & Services. There are also tabs along the top of the Home Page entitled Self-Help Center and Search.
Along the left-hand side of the Home Page are two categories, each with searchable links: Essential Links and Online Resources. A searchable Quick Site Index is also located on the left-hand side of the page.
In the center of the Home Page, the judiciary provides certain current information of interest, such as links to job announcements, notices to the Bar, and links to current published and unpublished decisions of note.
Finally, a variety of useful links are located along the right-hand side of the Home Page, including links for paying traffic tickets on-line, a link that allows attorneys to register on-line, foreclosure information, and Middlesex County Law and General Equity motion orders.
The links along the top and left-hand side of the Home Page are particularly useful. The “Courts” pull down menu provides links to the Appellate Division, Supreme Court, Tax Court, County and Municipal Courts, and the Superior Court Clerk’s Office. Each link contains useful information pertinent to the particular court. For example, by clicking on the Appellate Division link, the user will have access to, among other things, appellate forms, a document setting forth the standards governing appellate review, an updated list of the emergent duty schedule, appellate court calendars, and the ability to file an appeal electronically. The Supreme Court link allows the status of a Supreme Court appeal to be tracked. The County/Local Courts tab provides links to each county’s Superior Court web site, which typically provide useful telephone numbers, jury reporting information, a directory of judges with telephone numbers, and the like. The Superior Court Clerk’s Office link provides information on, among other things, access to court records. The Tax Court link provides, among other things, standardized forms and interrogatories, a handbook on practicing in the Tax Court, and links to recent local property tax cases that have been docketed and recent judgments. The Municipal Court link provides general information, legal resources, and helpful information about what to expect when appearing in municipal court, as well as a listing of Municipal Court judges and administrators, links to pertinent court decisions, and citations to fines and penalties for common motor vehicle offenses, including speeding, DWI, refusal, and driving while suspended.
The Forms tab along the top of the Home Page provides links to a large number of standardized legal practice forms used in the various divisions of the New Jersey Superior Court. It also provides legal practice forms for persons representing themselves on a pro se basis.
The General Information tab provides information on, among other things, unscheduled court closings (such as on bad weather days, thus eliminating uncertainty and the need to make telephone calls – a very useful feature). Links are also provided to court calendars and schedules, among other useful information.
The Legal tab is among the most important in terms of providing useful substantive information for practitioners. Here one will find, for example, a searchable copy of the New Jersey Court Rules and the Appendices thereto, which are no longer published in the paper volume. In addition, this tab provides access to a variety of legal reference materials, including, for example, a comprehensive Practitioner’s Guide to New Jersey Civil Court Procedures, as well as Civil Jury Charges and jury selection questions. The Legal tab also provides a Mass Tort Information Center which is very useful for anyone involved in such cases. A link entitled Attorney and Judicial Regulation provides access to, among other things, the rules governing mandatory continuing legal education for New Jersey attorneys. Finally, the site provides up-to-date information on Notices to the Bar.
The News and Publications tab is interesting in that, among other things, it allows members of the public to view Supreme Court oral arguments on-line under the “Webcasts” link. This tab also provides links to the judiciary’s press releases dating back to 1999, and to the Judiciary Times.
I use the Opinions tab quite often, as it provides access to published and unpublished Supreme Court and Appellate Division decisions and, to a lesser extent, trial court opinions. There is an interesting link entitled Business Related Opinions which categorizes and provides links to various published and unpublished decisions relating to various business-oriented topics, such as Business Disputes, Contract Disputes, Business Governance, and a catch-all category entitled Miscellaneous Actions. Thus, for example, by clicking on the Business Governance tab today, one is provided with links to cases involving stock transfers, oppressed shareholders, and shareholder buyouts; the Contract Disputes tab provides links to numerous cases involving topics such as breach of contract, indemnification, reformation, contract interpretation, and subrogation. The Opinions tab also provides links to, among other things, Ethics Committee and Disciplinary Review Board decisions.
The Programs and Services tab provides links to various court programs, such as, for example, the Civil Arbitration and Civil CDR and Mediation programs, the Drug Courts, the Veterans Assistance Program, Pretrial Intervention, and Volunteer Services on a county-by-county basis which offer opportunities for members of the public to volunteer their time to various judiciary-related programs.
In order to make the Web Site user-friendly, the judiciary has listed what it terms “Essential Links” along the left-hand side of the page. These links are also included in the various pull-down menus under the tabs described above, but by their listing on the left-hand side of the Home Page reduces the time that otherwise would be needed to search for the links elsewhere on the Web Page. Two links that I frequently use appear on the left-hand side of the Home Page under the category of Online Resources: (1) the “Civil Motion Calendar” link which enables a practitioner to find information on a particular motion, such as the return date, the judge to whom it has been assigned, and whether or not oral argument has been granted; and (2) the “Discovery End Date” link, which I always refer back to since so many deadlines under Best Practices jurisprudence in New Jersey are tied to the Discovery End Date. Finally, there is a useful link that allows users to search for civil mediators.
This article merely scratches the surface in terms of describing the contents of the judiciary’s Web Site. I have seen the Web Site substantially improve over the past several years as technological advances have made it much easier for the courts to post information on-line and for practitioners and other members of the public to search for such information. In many ways, the Web Site has eliminated the need to call the courts to obtain information, thus increasing efficiency and reducing frustration. The Web Site has also increased the public’s access to information about the courts and legal resources, which is always a positive development. The Web Site is a very useful resource for New Jersey attorneys and other members of the public.