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How Does the New Jersey Superior Court Work?

The New Jersey Superior Court is a trial court of general jurisdiction that hears both criminal and civil cases. It may also handle issues that are beyond the legal jurisdiction of the lower municipal courts. There are 21 counties in New Jersey and only 15 judicial vicinages representing one or more counties. These vicinages are also called judicial districts. Generally, a Superior Court in New Jersey comprises:

  • Criminal Division: The criminal division of the Superior Court hears criminal cases. Criminal cases involve offenses categorized as felonies and misdemeanors under the New Jersey Criminal Code.
  • Civil Division: The civil division is responsible for resolving monetary damages, such as small claims and complex commercial litigations. The civil division also handles class action suits, environmental and personal torts, and multicounty litigations designated by the Supreme Court.
  • Family Division: The family division of the Superior Court resolves disputes and litigations involving emotional and cultural contexts. These include divorce, termination of domestic partnerships, child support, custody, and visitation. Officials of the family division also process matters of domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, termination of parental rights, adoption, and orders protecting other vulnerable litigants.

Cases in New Jersey Superior Courts begin when a litigant files a suit. For suits in the civil and family divisions, the plaintiff is the individual seeking judicial intervention in their dispute. Here, litigants may file claims when they intend to represent themselves or contract the attorney’s services representing them in court. On the other hand, the state, represented by the state attorney, is the plaintiff in a criminal case, not the victim.

The New Jersey Superior Court handles tens of millions of cases every year, according to an annual report by the New Jersey Judiciary. However, the majority of these cases do not go to trial and end in a plea bargain. A plea bargain that is mutually convenient for the litigants conserves judicial resources and time. Cases typically go through three phases, i.e., pretrial, trial, and verdict phases.

When a party is not content with the Superior Court ruling, they may appeal the verdict in the Appellate Division of the Superior Court. Appealing the verdict involves filing a motion to appeal. The court can grant the appeal and rule upon it immediately, grant and permit the request to be processed for later judgment, or denied.

There are 371 Superior Court Judges in the state. Per Article VI, Section VI, of the New Jersey Constitution, nominees for Superior Court judgeship must have been part of the state bar for at least ten years. The appointment of a Superior Court judge begins with a governor’s nomination and requires the Senate’s confirmation. Furthermore, each judge is appointed to an initial term of seven years and may later be reappointed until age 70.

Judges and judgeship candidates of the Superior Court must abide by the Canons of the New Jersey Code of Judicial Conduct. Article VI, Section VI, Paragraph 3 of the state’s constitution makes provisions for removing judges from office. The governor, the legislature, or the Supreme may initiate removal proceedings for a judge alleged of inappropriate behavior or power abuse.

Judges may also be removed by impeachment when most of all members of the New Jersey General Assembly and a two-thirds vote of the Senate vote for impeachment. Likewise, when a judge is incapacitated and cannot substantially perform his/her judicial duties, the governor may retire the judge from office. Less often, a seating governor may decline to reconfirm a judge after their first term in office.

The following is a list of the location and contact information of Superior Courts in New Jersey:

Atlantic/Cape May Vicinage Superior Courts

Atlantic County Civil Courts Building

1201 Bacharach Boulevard

Atlantic City, NJ 08401

Phone: (609) 402–0100

Cape May County Courthouse

9 North Main Street

Cape May, NJ 08210

Phone: (609) 402–0100

Bergen Vicinage Superior Court

Bergen County Justice Center

10 Main Street

Hackensack, NJ 07601

Phone: (201) 221–0700

Burlington Vicinage Superior Court

49 Rancocas Road

Mt. Holly, NJ 08060

Phone: (609) 288–9500

Camden Vicinage Superior Court

Camden County Hall of Justice

101 South 5th Street

Camden, NJ 08103

Phone: (856) 379–2200

Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem Superior Courts

Cumberland County Courthouse

60 West Broad Street

Bridgeton, NJ 08302

Phone: (856) 451–8000

Gloucester County Superior Court

Gloucester County Justice Complex

70 Hunter Street

Woodbury, NJ 08096

Phone: (856) 853–3200

Gloucester County Superior Court

Gloucester County Courthouse

1 North Broad Street

Woodbury, NJ 08096

Phone: (856) 853–3200

Salem County Courthouse

92 Market Street

Salem, NJ 08079

Phone: (856) 878–5050

Essex Vicinage Superior Courts

Veterans Courthouse

50 West Market Street

Newark, NJ 07102

Phone: (973) 776–9300

Historic Courthouse (Civil Division)

470 Drive, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard

Newark, NJ 07102

Phone: (973) 776–9300

Hall of Records (Special Civil Part, Small Claims, Landlord-Tenant)

465 Drive, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard

Newark, NJ 07102

Phone: (973) 776–9300

Robert N. Wilentz Court Complex (Family, Chancery/General Equity)

212 Washington Street

Newark, NJ 07102

Phone: (973) 776–9300

Hudson Vicinage Superior Courts

Hudson County Administration Building

595 Newark Avenue

Jersey City, NJ 07306

Phone: (201) 748–4400 ext. 66600

William J. Brennan Courthouse

583 Newark Avenue

Jersey City, NJ 07306

Phone: (201) 748–4400 ext. 66600

Mercer Vicinage Superior Courts

Mercer County Civil Courthouse

175 South Broad Street

Trenton, NJ 08650

Phone: (609) 571–4200

Mercer County Criminal Courthouse

400 South Warren Street

Trenton, NJ 08608

Phone: (609) 571–4200

Middlesex County Superior Court

Middlesex County Courthouse

56 Paterson Street

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Phone: (732) 645–4300

Middlesex County Family Courthouse

120 New Street

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Phone: (732) 645–4300

Criminal Case Management Office

14 Kirkpatrick Street

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Phone: (732) 645–4300

Monmouth Vicinage Superior Court

Monmouth County Courthouse

71 Monument Park

Freehold, NJ 07728

Phone: (732) 677–4300

Hall of Records (General Equity)

1 East Main Street

Freehold, NJ 07728

Phone: (732) 431–7135

Morris/Sussex Vicinage Superior Courts

Morris County Courthouse

56 Washington Street

Morristown, NJ 07960

Phone: (973) 656–4000

Sussex County Judicial Center

43–47 High Street

Newton, NJ 07860

Phone: (973) 579–0675

Ocean Vicinage Superior Court

Ocean County Courthouse

118 Washington Street

Toms River, NJ 08753

Phone: (732) 929–2042

Passaic Vicinage Superior Court

Passaic County Courthouse

77 Hamilton Street

Paterson, NJ 07505

Phone: (973) 247–8000

Somerset/Hunterdon/Warren Vicinage Superior Courts

Somerset County Courthouse

20 North Bridge Street

Somerville, NJ 08876

Phone: (908) 332–7700

Warren County Courthouse

413 2nd Street, P. O. Box 900

Belvidere, NJ 07823

Phone: (908) 750–8100

Union Vicinage Superior Court

Union County Courthouse

2 Broad Street

Elizabeth, NJ 07207

Phone: (908) 787–1650

Hunterdon County Courthouse

65 Park Avenue

Flemington, NJ 08822

Phone: (908) 824–9750

Interested individuals may visit the Clerk of Court office at the court location where the case was filed, in-person during business hours. Under the New Jersey Open Records Act, the records custodian must make the record available for public perusal, unless the court has sealed it. Alternatively, the searcher may use independent online repositories to find the records of interest.

The timeline of a case depends on its complexity. Most cases go through several stages before they can proceed to trial, and the litigants may have to fulfill a court-mandated mediation or arrive at a plea bargain. In terms of cases that do move to trial, the court will have to schedule a date for preliminary hearings and oral arguments. Also, jury deliberations may take hours to weeks, depending on the complexity of the case. Thus, a case may be resolved within weeks or go on for months.

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