Thursday, August 6, Governor Murphy signed S-3049/A-5176 into law. This law establishes a regional municipal court pilot program. The Administrative Office of the Courts will establish the pilot program in no fewer than two qualified counties and no fewer than five municipalities in each county. Under the criteria Atlantic, Cape May, Salem, Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Somerset, Warren, Morris and Sussex counties would qualify. The municipalities and counties must apply to the Administrative Office of the Courts to participate in the pilot program.
The regional municipal court would have jurisdiction over all matters falling within the jurisdiction of the municipal courts that are part of the pilot program. The nomination and appointment of the judge would be made by the Governor with advice and consent of the Senate. The vicinage assignment judge would have the authority to make a temporary appointment in the event of a vacancy.
All fines and costs collected by a regional municipal court would be the same as currently provided by law for municipal courts. The regional municipal court would retain these monies on a pro rata basis equal to the costs incurred associated with the operations of the court. The remainder of the fines and costs collected by the regional municipal court would be distributed in accordance with existing law for deposit in various funds, such as Automated Traffic System Fund or the Emergency Medical Technician Training Fund.
In support of consolidated court operations, a county participating in the pilot program could assess participating municipalities, based on their equalized value, for the regional court’s budget.
This new law takes effect on October 4, 2021 but the Administrative Director of the Courts may take anticipatory action necessary for the implementation of the pilot program.