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Posted by David Pine | Mar 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

Alert: Coronavirus and the New Jersey Courts


Updated May 27, 2020 

COVID-19 cases continue to increase in South Jersey prison inmates

Press of Atlantic City

N.J. Supreme Court could release more prisoners as coronavirus cases rise behind bars



Updated May 26, 2020

COVID-19 'outbreak' declared after 88 inmates infected at Mercer County jail

From the Trentonian

Updated May 20, 2020

Contempt of virtual court? Coronavirus justice includes barking dogs, tech challenges

From Asbury Park Press

N.J. courts switched to virtual hearings due to coronavirus closures. Jury trial backlogs, permanent changes could be coming


Updated May 17, 2020

The virus has turned NJ prisons into death houses. The governor must act now | Editorial



Update May 15, 2020

Judiciary Launches Virtual Grand Jury Pilot Program

From South Jersey Observer

South Jersey prison reports doubling of COVID-19 cases in 10 days

From the Atlantic City Press

If the state fails to act, prisons will become death camps



Prisons Are Using the Pandemic to Impose Lockdowns



Update May 14, 2020

New Jersey Has Nation's Highest Inmate Death Rate

From the Crime Report

COVID-19 Puts Prosecutors at ‘Center' of Justice Reform: Paper

From the Crime Report


Update May 13, 2020

Prison Inmates are dying at an alarming rate. We must do more.



Update May 12, 2020


The Intercept

Update May 8, 2020

Coronavirus in Ocean County: Corrections officers protest conditions at jail in Toms River


Updated May 3, 2020

 N.J. prisons have highest coronavirus death rate in the nation, new study shows

New Jersey prisoners are dying from the coronavirus at a higher rate than those in any other prison system in the nation, according to state and federal data assembled by The Marshall Project.


Updated May 1, 2020

New Jersey Department of Corrections to Begin Universal COVID-19 Testing and Launches Non-Congregate Housing Program for First Responders


Updated April 30, 2020

Court Update: 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey state courts have conducted more than 12,000 remote court events involving more than 80,000 participants since transitioning to virtual operations.  New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner issued a Second Omnibus Order on April 24, 2020, to resume certain court operations through video and phone conferencing.  Under the Order, in-person court appearances will be permitted only in emergency situations. Virtual depositions are also encouraged, with court reporters presently authorized to administer oaths remotely. Jury trials and grand jury proceedings remain suspended until further notice.

How many more officers, inmates must be sacrificed?


Updated April 29, 2020

N.J. has tested fewer than 200 state prisoners for coronavirus. Now all 18K could be tested.

From N.J. com

Updated April 27, 2020

Despite Murphy's Plan to Release Prisoners, Inmates and Guards Still Dying of COVID-19 in Prison System

From Shore News

From Morris County

Updated April 26, 2020

With victims stuck at home, domestic violence concerns are mounting. ‘It's an ideal situation for an abuser.'

Toxic Mix: Coronavirus + Stay at Home= Domestic Violence Trends up 



Updated April 25, 2020

With less than 1% of state prisoners tested for COVID-19, NJ Together wants on site plan

Some New Jersey Courts To Resume Operations

New Jersey's Supreme Court issued an order Friday resuming operations of some courts, and extending the deadline for other court activities. Jury trials are now suspended until May 31. Also on hold until then: Landlord-tenant trials and grand juries.  Municipal court sessions will resume on May 11 by video and phone, and if the parties consent, court sessions can resume on April 27.

From CBS news

Updated April 24, 2020

Push for coronavirus testing in NJ prisons grows as deaths mount

From Bergen Record


Updated April 23, 2020

3rd N.J. corrections officer dies from coronavirus as union calls for widespread testing in prisons



Testa calls for probe into DOC's COVID response

From New Jersey Globe


CO union calls for immediate inspection of NJ county jail

The union filed complaints after COs were required to wear masks for two, 12-hour shifts in a row despite "an ample supply of surgical masks in the county's stockpile"


Grewal: Fewer reports of abuse during COVID-19 pandemic

From NJ.Herald


ACLU Warns Spread of Coronavirus in Jails Could Add 100,000 Deaths to U.S. Toll


Updated April 22, 2020

Over a dozen prisoners died from COVID-19 after Gov. Phil Murphy ordered inmates released

Bergen Record


Advocates Say Murphy's Prison Release Order Is Falling Short

From NJSpotlight

‘I fear for my life.' Halfway house residents claim lax coronavirus response



Updated April 21, 2020 

Advocacy organizations call for compassionate release of elderly, sick prisoners

From the ABA Journal

Coronavirus Has Made Incarceration a Potential Death Sentence

Prisons should be a priority for supplies, for tests, and for early release of as many inmates as possible, particularly the elderly and the vulnerable.


Updated April 17, 2020

NJ drug courts offering virtual sessions

From the Atlantic City Press


Updated April 16, 2020

N.J. county jail will be first to screen all inmates for coronavirus using a new testing method

All inmates and detainees at the Essex County Correctional Facility will be tested for COVID-19 — whether they have symptoms or not — using a recently approved antibody blood test that can deliver results in 15 minutes. 



Updated April 15, 2020

N.J. county jail population plunges with inmate releases, fewer arrests in coronavirus crisis


NJ County Jail Population as of April 15, 2020




















 Gov. Murphy: June Reopen Possible; 351 More NJ Coronavirus Deaths



Justice Dept watchdog reviewing prisons for virus safety

Updated April 11, 2020

'Social distancing' is difficult in N.J. prisons. That could be a problem for all of us.



DOC Commissioner Defends COVID-19 Care in State Prisons, Murphy Orders Release of Some Inmates


Update: April 9, 2020

Coronavirus NJ: Murphy calls for release of some inmates

From Asbury Park Press

ICE detainee coronavirus cases grow across the country. New Jersey is the state with the most

From Bergen Record


Update: April 8, 2020

Another Hudson County jail employee dies of coronavirus complications

From the Bergen Record

Federal Inmate At Burlington County Prison Contracts Coronavirus

From Daily Voice

Morris County Jail is in Lockdown; 9 Inmates and 20 Officers/Staff Test Positive for COVID-19

From TapInto Staff

Update: April 7, 2020

NJ inmate with coronavirus symptoms left ‘basically for dead'

From the New York Post

Staff of overrun N.J. hospital breaks down in tears after EMS comes to its rescue

From the Newark Star-Ledger


Update: April 6, 2020

This N.J. county jail is in lockdown as coronavirus spreads to officers and inmates


Hudson County jail: Two nurses dead and more than 60 people positive for coronavirus

From the Bergen Record

A running list of positive coronavirus cases at county jails in North Jersey

From the Bergen Record


Update: April 5, 2020

Inmate says she was left ‘basically for dead' in-room at N.J. prison after getting sick amid coronavirus outbreak



Update: April 4, 2020

Coronavirus spreads in N.J. prisons as inmates and officers say the state is risking their health



Update: April 3, 2020

Inmate at Passaic County Jail tests positive for coronavirus

From the Bergen Record

NJ courts hit with surge of inmates seeking release over coronavirus fears

From the Bergen Record


Update: April 2, 2020

Veteran Hudson County corrections officer first in NJ law enforcement to die of coronavirus

From the Bergen Record

Update: April 1, 2020

Expect coronavirus fallout in N.J. to stretch ‘deep into May,' Murphy says

Releasing Inmates to Slow Spread of Coronavirus 'Sends a Message' Activist Says

According to the state Public Defender's Office, 44 Passaic County Jail inmates were eligible for release. Prosecutors objected to half of those and 12 cases are pending.


Update: March 31, 2020

As coronavirus spreads, will N.J. release more people from jails and prisons?

Authorities disclosed Monday that 21 corrections officers in New Jersey's state prisons have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.


Update: March 30, 2020


Update: March 29, 2020

State police leader ‘overstated' the number of N.J. cops who've tested positive for coronavirus


N.J. coronavirus cases increase to 13,386 with 161 deaths. Outbreak escalates with 2,316 new positive tests.  


Update: March 28, 2020

 700 N.J. inmates have been freed during coronavirus crisis. Some could wind up homeless.



As prison coronavirus cases rise, N.J. officers want ‘hazard pay' — and their own testing center



700 N.J. police officers have tested positive for coronavirus, State Police leader says



Coronavirus behind bars: Prisoners being freed to slow spread in 'virus vectors'

Advocates warn that inmates and correctional workers are "sitting ducks" for infection.

From NBC News


If US prisons don't release some inmates, coronavirus will be a death sentence for the incarcerated

In a prison environment, huge numbers will die. Essentially, we are transforming their sentence of incarceration into a sentence to death

From Independent

The New Jersey Supreme Court details all the closing and limitations that will affect the judiciary in the coming weeks.  The Superior Courts, as well as the municipal courts, will be closed until at least April 26th. 

From N.J. Courts

Update: March 27, 2020

 Passaic County sheriff's coronavirus alert was late, union says

From Bergen Record


Judge frees ICE detainees after coronavirus hits New Jersey jails

From NY Post

Update: March 26, 2020

Criminal justice advocates demand coronavirus plan as the disease spreads among inmates, officers

From the Politico


Morris County inmate positive for COVID-19



Domestic violence is expected to spike amid social distancing, experts say


N.J. coronavirus outbreak hits 6,876 cases with 81 deaths. Another 2,492 positive tests in a huge single-day increase

From the Bergen Record

No need to wait for pandemics: The public health case for criminal justice reform

From Prison Policy Initiative

This article concludes that action is necessary for two reasons: the justice-involved population disproportionately has health conditions that make them more vulnerable, and making policy changes requires staffing resources that will be unavailable if a pandemic hits. If the government wants to protect both justice-involved people and their already overstretched justice system staff from getting the virus and spreading it further, they need to act now.

Local jails releasing hundreds of prisoners amid coronavirus fears, up from dozens just weeks ago

From USA Today

Update: March 25, 2020 

New Jersey coronavirus cases surge to 4,402 with 62 deaths. Officials announce 736 new cases



You have a right to a speedy trial. What if juries are postponed indefinitely?


According to this article: The U.S. Constitution guarantees your right to a “speedy trial.” State law says that trial should begin about six months after you're charged with a serious crime. There were 5,018 people in jail awaiting trial at the end of January.  Normally after an arrest, you must be indicted within 90 days and wait no more than 180 days for a trial, according to state law. A judge may grant extensions for a long list of reasons, including a “natural disaster.” New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner issued an order Thursday saying more than two weeks of March would not be counted toward that 180-day limit.

Opinion: NJ plan to release some inmates is a practical way to slow coronavirus spread | Editorial

From the Bergen Record

Update: March 24. 2020

N.J. Gov. ‘really damned unhappy' about people violating coronavirus lockdown. Expect crackdown


Coronavirus in NJ: 809 jail inmates eligible for release

From the Bergen Record

Morris County inmate isolated after testing positive for coronavirus

From the Bergen Record

Passaic County court officer tests positive for coronavirus, six inmates put in quarantine

From the Bergen Record.

Coronavirus: Bergen County Jail goes on lockdown after immigration detainee tests positive

From Bergen Record

State Orders Release of Low-Level Offenders from County Jails in Wake of New Coronavirus

Release expected Thursday of as many as 1,000 inmates on probation or serving less than a year, but order doesn't apply to state prisons

From njspotlight

Bergen County Reports 600 COVID-19 Cases Impacting 65 Municipalities as of Monday

Passaic County reports 141 cases of coronavirus; drive-thru testing station opening on Wednesday

The Pandemic Economy in American Prisons

From manufacturing hand sanitizer to processing chicken, incarcerated workers face extreme risk for virtually no pay.

From the New Republic

UPDATE: MARCH 23, 2020

Hudson County jail to begin releasing inmates Tuesday during ‘modified lockdown' for coronavirus

From the Jersey Journal






New Jersey's chief justice, Stuart Rabner, signed an order late Sunday authorizing the release of offenders serving certain types of sentences in county jails. This order applies to inmates who are in jail for probation violations, as well as to those with municipal court convictions, such as disorderly conduct, or for low-level crimes in Superior Court.

From the NY Times

Coronavirus NJ: Morris County jail officer tests positive


Update: March 22, 2020

2 Coronavirus Cases in New Jersey Prison With ICE Detainees. The Hudson County Corrections and Rehabilitation Center in New Jersey, which houses both county inmates and ICE detainees, has been placed on lockdown for two weeks.

38 NYC inmates, including at Rikers, test positive for coronavirus

From the New York Post -

Top official says New York City coronavirus jail outbreak is a crisis, dozens infected

From the Hill -

Update:  March 21, 2020

Governor Murphy orders N.J. residents to stay home, closes non-essential retail businesses in state lockdown to fight coronavirus

From -

Growing Calls To Close Immigration Courts And Release Detainees As Virus Spreads

From NPR -

Coronavirus is Causing Havoc with the Courts. And the Effects Could be Permanent

From Politico -

Coronavirus Transforming Jails Across the Country


New Jersey Courts Website: Coronavirus Update (3/20)

Read All COVID-19 Coronovirus Updates.

As of March 18, 2020, and until further notice, there are no in-person Superior Court proceedings (except for extremely limited emergent matters and certain ongoing trials). As many matters as possible (including case management conferences, motions, and hearings) will be handled by telephone or video conference.

Update: March 20, 2020

The Coronavirus is Set to Explode in our Jails and Prisons

From -

“This is a moral issue, not a legal issue,” as the state's Public Defender, Joseph Krakora, says. “It is a humanitarian issue. We're trying to prevent against the spread of this disease.”

More restrictions coming, N.J. cases jump to nearly 900

From -

Passaic County: Criminal Division Operations 

Criminal Attorneys received an email this morning from Judge Marilyn Clark, Criminal Presiding Judge regarding operations for criminal matters in Passaic County.  I've highlighted the most important points. 

  • Chief Justice Stuart Rabner issued his most recent directive on March 18, 2020 regarding protocols dealing with the current Coronavirus crisis. The Chief Justice ordered that, until further notice, there are no in-person Superior Court Proceedings “except for extremely limited emergent matters and certain on-going trials. As many matters as possible (including case management conferences, motions, and hearings) will be handled by telephone or videoconference.”
  • The Criminal Courts will be conducting all hearings and motions (detention, CJP, emergent matters, pleas, sentences, etc.) only through audio or video conferencing. Our judges and staff have been trained in recent days on Zoom, which is a remote video and audio conferencing telecommunication system.
  • The Criminal Division now has two fully tested and operational Virtual Courtrooms – Courtroom # 4 and Courtroom # 5. The Courthouse itself has a total of 7 Virtual Courtrooms. The other Courtrooms are assigned to the other divisions.
  • Virtual Courtroom # 4 will be utilized as a multi-purpose courtroom. The schedule of usage is attached with further explanation.  It will be utilized  Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 4:30 pm.  Saturday usage will ordinarily be for CJP from 1:30 pm to 4:30 p.m.
  •  Virtual Courtroom # 5 will be utilized as a dedicated courtroom to handle all Detention hearings, which ordinarily start at 9:00 a.m. and continue until finished.
  • We do not know if and when the courthouse will be fully closed for a period of time.

You can also visit the Passaic County Judiciary website,  and the Passaic County Bar Association website,

 New Jersey Court Operations, per the Supreme Court of New Jersey   

"In response to the growing public health crisis worldwide and in this state involving the COVID-19 coronavirus, the New Jersey Judiciary is implementing all possible measures to apply social distancing in current court operations consistent with the recommendations of the New Jersey Department of Health (“NJ DOH”) and the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”).

Based on the large number of persons required for jury and grand jury panels, on March 12, 2020, the Judiciary suspended all reporting for jury service except for ongoing trials and directed that no new criminal jury trials would be conducted until further notice, and on March 17, 2020, the Court postponed the empanelment of all grand juries, including the State Grand Jury, and canceled all current grand jury sessions, including the State Grand Jury, effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020, through Friday, March 27, 2020.

Accordingly, it is ORDERED that effective immediately:

  • In the computation of the time limits for the commencement of a prosecution for an indictable offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:1-6(b), the period from March 17 through Sunday, March 29, 2020, shall be tolled.
  • In the calculation of the time period for the return of an indictment for an eligible defendant detained in the county jail, the period from March 17 through March 29, 2020, shall be excluded due to exceptional circumstances, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:162-22(b)(1)(f), and on account of good cause for the delay, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:162-22(b)(1)(l), namely, grand jury unavailability, which period shall be attributable to the court.
  • In the calculation of the time period for the commencement of trial for an eligible defendant detained in the county jail, the period from March 12 through March 29, 2020, shall be excluded due to exceptional circumstances, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:162-22(b)(1)(f), and on account of good cause for the delay, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:162-22(b)(1)(l), namely, the statewide postponement of jury trials, which period shall be attributable to the court.
  • Those excludable time provisions are not intended to prevent the parties from making every effort to continue to resolve cases prior to indictment and trial, and courts will conduct proceedings by video or phone, as appropriate.

 For the Court, /s/ Stuart Rabner, Chief Justice

Dated: March 19, 2020"


Morris County Prosecutor's Office

Morris County Prosecutor's Office Remains Open.  Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp said the public health emergency will not prompt a closure.


Update: March 19, 2020

Bergen County Jail Corrections Officer Tests Positive For Coronavirus, 7 Others Self-Quarantine

Bergen County Virus Epicenter for the State

State officials confirmed another four deaths related to complications from coronavirus Thursday, as cases statewide continued their steep climb, up by 318 to 742, Gov. Phil Murphy said.  Bergen County continues to be the virus epicenter for the state, with 195 cases, a jump of 81 on Thursday.  Middlesex County has 64 cases, Essex County has 63, Hudson has 55, Monmouth has 43 and Passaic has 38. Ocean County now has 33 cases, with 25 new ones Thursday.

As of March 19, 2020 per the Bergen Record, "Bergen County Executive James Tedesco has rescinded his executive order that would have implemented a near-total shutdown of retail activity to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The order was set to go into effect on Saturday morning. Tedesco withdrew it "at the request of the governor," the county executive said in a press release issued Thursday.

Update:  March 18,2020

As of March 18, 2020, and until further notice, there are no in-person Superior Court proceedings (except for extremely limited emergent matters and certain ongoing trials). As many matters as possible (including case management conferences, motions, and hearings) will be handled by telephone or video conference.
This is part of the Judiciary's social distancing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. Contact the court if you have questions about a scheduled hearing, motion, conference, or other matter.

Through March 27, all Landlord/Tenant calendars and all Municipal Court sessions are postponed and a new date will be provided to you.

Suspension of Grand Jury sessions Notice

Suspension of “undue hardship” rule for Municipal Court plea forms Notice

For more information on preparing for coronavirus, see the state Department of Health's advisory or contact the 24-hour public hotline at 1-800-222-1222. 

Immigration courts in New York, Newark closed as coronavirus outbreak continues

The Morris County Courthouse in Morristown has been cleaned and sanitized and is now open for emergent matters.

Morris Superior Court closed for 'disinfection' after employee exposed to coronavirus


March 18, 2020

The pandemic dominates the headlines.  As reported by the New York Times, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that no gatherings with 50 people or more — including weddings, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events or conferences — be held in the United States for the next eight weeks in one of the federal government's most sweeping efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus." This recommendation was adopted by the State of New Jersey this week. 

On March 16, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 104, implementing aggressive social distancing measures to mitigate further spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey. Among the directives, Governor Murphy's Executive Order indefinitely closes all public and private preschool, elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education, as well as closes all casinos, racetracks, gyms, movie theaters, and performing arts centers. The order also mandates that all non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses must cease daily operations from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am. All restaurant establishments, with or without a liquor license, are limited to offering only delivery and/or take out-services only, both during daytime hours and after 8 pm.

As reported by local news outlets, Gov. Phil Murphy told New Jerseyans on Wednesday (March 18, 2020) that new directives on social gathering will be enforced. Murphy announced that there are 162 new positive cases, bringing the total statewide to 427, including five deaths. He attributed the new numbers to the increase in testing and the social spread of the virus. "If people are gathering in large numbers, we don't care where they are gathering. It's a public health concern," Murphy said. "We will enforce this aggressively over the coming days and weeks if need be." All malls, amusement parks, and bowling alleys will be closed by 8 pm on Friday.

Expect local law enforcement agencies to crack down on large gatherings.

Update: March 15, 2020

New Jersey Courts Postpone In-Person Proceedings

Update: March 12, 2020

State courts to halt new trials, jury selection as coronavirus precautions grow

About the Author

David Pine

PASSAIC COUNTY CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY DAVID L. PINE A practicing criminal attorney since 1988, Mr. Pine graduated from Indiana University and received his J.D. from Western New England College School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in New Jersey and the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. Mr. Pine was a law cl...


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