Municipal Courts: I Miss You...
Updated: Feb 9, 2022
We have all been impacted by COVID 19. Every person. Every profession. In my legal practice, the most dramatic impact I have felt is at the local Municipal Court level. Virtual court appearances, although the subject of many entertaining memes and YouTube videos (see “I am not a cat”) cause me concern and actually make me a little sad. Judges, Court Staff, and Attorneys have done the best they can under very challenging circumstances to keep the courthouse doors open through virtual appearances. However, considering that Municipal Court is where the majority of people experience our judicial system for things like speeding tickets, minor criminal offenses (disorderly person’s offenses), neighbor disputes, and other conflicts with a real impact on a personal level, one's appearance should not be reduced to a Zoom call you take in your car or while on a smoke break at work. It matters and should be taken seriously.
In New Jersey, each town participates in its own Municipal Court, although in recent years, especially in less populated areas such as Hunterdon County, there has been (rightfully so) a consolidation of Municipal Courts to reduce costs. But the different experience you can have in, for example, Raritan Township versus Flemington Borough, is a reality and those two Courts share a parking lot! Technology has only exacerbated that differing experience and the comfort level of the Staff and Judge at each court varies. My most important concern is for my clients, often Defendants who are suffering from additional anxiety as they are trying to navigate technology while under the stress of facing consequences for violating the law. I hope Municipal Courts come back to serving our residents in-person after what has been a challenging two years of administering the law in the midst of a pandemic.
If you do not want to appear in Municipal Court alone, we are ready to represent you in your matter, be it virtual or in-person. If you have any questions, contact us at 908-237-3098 or at