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THE CORONAVIRUS CHAOS - Updated Daily

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

Alert: Coronavirus and the New Jersey Courts

Outbreak

  

Update: April 1, 2020

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

https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/04/expect-coronavirus-fallout-in-nj-to-stretch-deep-into-may-murphy-says.html?utm_content=nj_twitter_njdotcom&utm_campaign=njdotcom_sf&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

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.

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/paterson/sections/law-and-justice/articles/releasing-inmates-to-slow-spread-of-coronavirus-sends-a-message-activist-says

 

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.

From NJ.com https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/as-coronavirus-spreads-will-nj-release-more-people-from-jails-and-prisons.html

Update: March 30, 2020

SPREAD OF CORONAVIRUS ACCELERATES IN US JAILS AND PRISONS

https://ewn.co.za/2020/03/30/spread-of-coronavirus-accelerates-in-us-jails-and-prisons

Update: March 29, 2020

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

From N.J.com https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/state-police-overstated-the-number-of-nj-cops-whove-tested-positive-for-coronavirus.html

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

From NJ.com https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/nj-coronavirus-cases-increase-to-13386-with-161-deaths-outbreak-escalates-with-2316-new-positive-tests.html

Update: March 28, 2020

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

From N.J.com https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/700-nj-inmates-have-been-freed-during-coronavirus-crisis-some-could-wind-up-homeless.html

 

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

From NJ.com https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/as-prison-coronavirus-cases-rise-nj-officers-want-hazard-pay-and-their-own-testing-center.html

 

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

From NJ.com https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/700-nj-police-officers-have-tested-positive-for-coronavirus-state-police-leader-says.html

 

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 https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/coronavirus-behind-bars-prisoners-being-freed-slow-spread-virus-vectors-n1169881

 

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 https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/us-prisons-coronavirus-prisoners-release-death-a9431546.html

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 https://njcourts.gov/notices/2020/n200327a.pdf?c=v1t

 
Update: March 27, 2020

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

From Bergen Record https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/coronavirus/2020/03/27/passaic-county-sheriffs-officers-complain-late-coronavirus-notification/2919943001/

 

Judge frees ICE detainees after coronavirus hits New Jersey jails

From NY Post https://nypost.com/2020/03/27/judge-frees-ice-detainees-after-coronavirus-hits-new-jersey-jails/

 
Update: March 26, 2020

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

From the Politico https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2020/03/23/criminal-justice-advocates-demand-coronavirus-plan-as-disease-spreads-among-inmates-officers-1268736

 

Morris County inmate positive for COVID-19

From NJHerald.com https://www.njherald.com/news/20200326/morris-county-inmate-positive-for-covid-19

 

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

From NJ.com https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/domestic-violence-is-expected-to-spike-amid-social-distancing-experts-say.html 

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 https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/nj-coronavirus-outbreak-hits-6876-cases-with-81-deaths-another-2492-positive-tests-in-huge-single-day-increase.html

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

From Prison Policy Initiative https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2020/03/06/pandemic/

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 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/03/26/jails-free-hundreds-prisoners-stop-coronavirus/5077204002/

Update: March 25, 2020 

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

From NJ.com https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/new-jersey-coronavirus-cases-surge-to-4402-with-62-deaths-officials-announce-736-new-cases.html

 

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

From NJ.com https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/you-have-a-right-to-a-speedy-trial-what-if-juries-are-postponed-indefinitely.html

Jury 20box 2012

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

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/editorials/2020/03/25/njs-plan-release-inmates-practical-way-slow-coronavirus-editorial/2903505001/

Update: March 24. 2020

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

From NJ.com https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/nj-gov-really-damned-unhappy-about-people-violating-coronavirus-lockdown-expect-crackdown.html

Coronavirus in NJ: 809 jail inmates eligible for release

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From the Bergen Record https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/2020/03/24/coronavirus-nj-809-jail-inmates-eligible-releases/2909541001/

Morris County inmate isolated after testing positive for coronavirus

From the Bergen Record https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/coronavirus/2020/03/24/morris-county-nj-jail-inmate-isolated-after-testing-positive-coronavirus/2911580001/

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

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From the Bergen Record.  https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/coronavirus/2020/03/24/nj-coronavirus-passaic-county-court-officer-tests-positive/2912215001/

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

From Bergen Record https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/coronavirus/2020/03/24/bergen-county-jail-lockdown-detainee-tests-positive-coronavirus/2910131001/

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 https://www.njspotlight.com/2020/03/state-orders-release-of-low-level-offenders-from-county-jails-in-wake-of-new-coronavirus/

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

https://www.insidernj.com/bergen-county-reports-600-covid-19-cases-impacting-65-municipalities/

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

http://patersontimes.com/2020/03/24/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 https://newrepublic.com/article/157020/pandemic-economy-american-prisons

UPDATE: MARCH 23, 2020

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

From the Jersey Journal https://www.nj.com/hudson/2020/03/hudson-county-jail-to-begin-releasing-inmates-tuesday-during-modified-lockdown-for-coronavirus.html

 

N.J. WILL RELEASE PRISONERS TO SAVE LIVES | EDITORIAL

From nj.com https://www.nj.com/opinion/2020/03/nj-will-release-prisoners-to-save-lives-edi

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: NEW JERSEY: 2,844 NJ CASES, 21 DEATHS

From njpen.com  https://www.njpen.com/coronavirus-update-2844-nj-cases-21-deaths-1st-in-camden-county-crackdown-on-stay-at-home-violators-gougers-non-violent-county-inmates-paroled/

2019 11 20

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 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/nyregion/coronavirus-nj-inmates-release.html

Coronavirus NJ: Morris County jail officer tests positive

From northjersey.com  https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/2020/03/23/coronavirus-nj-morris-county-jail-officer-tests-positive/2897024001/

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.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/epg744/2-confirmed-coronavirus-cases-in-hudson-county-correctional-facility

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

From the New York Post -  https://nypost.com/2020/03/22/38-test-positive-for-coronavirus-in-nyc-jails-including-rikers/

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

From the Hill -https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/488855-top-official-says-new-york-city-coronavirus-jail-outbreak-is-a-crisis

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 NJ.com - https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/murphy-orders-nj-residents-to-stay-home-closes-non-essential-businesses-in-state-lockdown-to-fight-coronavirus.html

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

From NPR - https://www.npr.org/2020/03/21/819275605/growing-calls-to-close-immigration-courts-and-release-detainees-as-virus-spreads

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

From Politico - https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/03/20/stuck-in-an-overwhelmed-legal-system-civil-lawsuits-criminal-defendants-and-trumps-tax-returns-139579

Coronavirus Transforming Jails Across the Country

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/03/21/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 NJ.com - https://www.nj.com/opinion/2020/03/jails-and-prisons-will-spawn-the-next-big-outbreak-editorial.html

“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 NJ.com - https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/coronavirus-updates-more-restrictions-coming-nj-cases-jump-to-nearly-900-heres-what-you-need-to-know.html

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, https://njcourts.gov/courts/vicinages/passaic.html  and the Passaic County Bar Association website, https://www.passaicbar.org/.

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

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"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.  https://patch.com/new-jersey/morristown/morris-county-prosecutor-s-office-remains-open

 

Update: March 19, 2020

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

https://dailyvoice.com/new-jersey/hackensack/police-fire/bergen-county-jail-corrections-officer-tests-positive-for-coronavirus-7-others-self-quarantine/785257/

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. 

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/coronavirus/2020/03/19/nj-coronavirus-deaths-rise-9-statewide-cases-reach-742-thursday/2872991001/

https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/03/coronavirus-outbreak-in-nj-surges-to-at-least-742-cases-with-6-deaths-318-new-positive-tests-announced.html

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

https://www.pix11.com/news/coronavirus/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.

https://twitter.com/njcourts/status/1240244495112966144

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

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/2020/03/17/morris-superior-court-closed-disinfection-after-employee-reports-exposure-coronavirus/5066434002/

 

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

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/westfield/sections/law-and-justice/articles/new-jersey-courts-postpone-in-person-proceedings-63

Update: March 12, 2020

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

https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/new-jersey/2020/03/12/nj-courts-chief-justice-stuart-rabner-announces-halt-new-trials/5037188002/

About the Author

David Pine

ATTORNEY DAVID L. PINE A practicing 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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