New Jersey’s courts are preparing to resume some in-person operations in the coming weeks.
On Thursday, the Judiciary released a plan detailing the second phase of its pandemic operations. That phase, which the courts will begin on June 22, will still see most matters handled remotely, but staffing levels at court facilities will begin to rise, and a small number of cases will, with the approval of involved parties, be conducted in person.
Under the plan, onsite staffing levels would rise to between 10% and 15% and gradually increase. Currently, less than 5% of judges and judiciary staff are physically showing up for work, and the facilities are closed to attorneys and the public.
That phase won’t begin until the courts have arranged for a series of mitigation measures, including sneeze guards, COVID-19 signage and, possibly, thermal scanning, among other things.
During phase two, most matters will be still be handled remotely, though six suspended jury trials — five criminal and one civil — would be conducted in person pending approval from the involved attorneys and parties.
Other matters could be conducted in person if they are sufficiently serious.
The courts may move some counties back to phase one if the COVID-19 caseload there increases.