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New Jersey Courts
New Jersey Civil Courts
Law Division – Civil Part: In the Law Division of the Civil Part, there is no monetary limit on the value of cases that may be filed. Examples of cases are those involving automobile accidents, medical malpractice, breach of contract and collection of a debt. Either party may request a jury trial. A civil jury typically consists of six persons.
Special Civil Part: The Special Civil Part handles small claims (up to $3,000), tenancy matters, and claims for monetary relief up to $15,000. Cases in the Special Civil Part are typically tried by a judge without a jury.
Chancery Division – General Equity: The Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, General Equity, handles claims for non-monetary relief, such as labor injunctions, claims for emergent relief, foreclosures and dissolution of a corporation or partnership. General Equity cases are tried by a judge without a jury.
Chancery Division – Probate: The Probate Part is a court of general jurisdiction. It handles all contested probate matters and certain uncontested matters, with its statutory authority to supervise and resolve any dispute arising in a decedent’s estate, trust, guardianship, conservatorship, or other probate matter. The Probate Part handles matters in open court with notice given to all interested parties. It has general oversight of Surrogate’s Court proceedings.
Surrogate’s Court: Most probate matters are handled by the Surrogate’s Court, which is a court of limited jurisdiction. Each of New Jersey’s twenty-one counties has an elected Surrogate. Probate in the Surrogate’s Court is initiated by one party, without any formal appearance required. The Surrogate’s Courts jurisdiction is restricted to specific uncontested applications, i.e., admitting an original will to probate, appointing an administrator to handle an estate if there is no will, appointing an administrator to pursue a wrongful death action, and appointing minors’ guardians. Surrogate’s Courts handle only uncontested matters, that is, matters where no objection, dispute or controversy arises. For example, the probate of a Last Will and Testament may be handled in the Surrogate’s Court only when the original will is lodged, no doubt or difficulty arises on the face of the will, and no caveat, dispute or opposition is present. Otherwise, probate must be handled in the Superior Court’s Probate Part.
Family Division: The Family Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey consists of many parts and encompasses all aspects of family life. Family-related cases, such as those involving divorce, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, child support, foster-care placements, adoption, custody and visitation and terminations of parental rights, are heard in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Division.
The Appellate Division of the Superior Court is New Jersey’s intermediate Appellate Court. It is comprised of 33 judges who sit in two and three judge panels chosen from parts consisting of four or five judges. Appellate Division judges hear appeals from decisions of the trial courts, the Tax Court and State administrative agencies.
Each part is administered by a Presiding Judge. The chambers of the Appellate Division judges are located in Atlantic City, Jersey City, Morristown, New Brunswick, Newark, Trenton, West Long Branch, and Westmont. Arguments are heard in courtrooms located in Atlantic City, Morristown, New Brunswick, Newark, and Trenton, as well as other locations from time to time.
The Appellate Division considers appeals timely taken as of right from the final judgments of the Law Division and the Chancery Division of the Superior Court, final judgments of the Tax Court and final decisions of State administrative agencies. Litigants requiring Appellate Division review of interlocutory or interim orders of a trial court or agency may do so only with leave of the Court. This requires the filing of a motion for leave to appeal, which may be granted and ruled upon immediately, granted and permitted to be processed for a later determination, or denied. If leave is denied, the party seeking review may do so as of right following the final judgment of the trial court or final decision of the administrative agency.
The New Jersey Supreme Court is the highest appellate court in the state. It is composed of a chief justice and six associate justices. As the state’s highest appellate court, the New Jersey Supreme Court decides appeals from the lower courts and cases in which a panel of appellate judges has disagreed on one or more issues on appeal. In addition, litigants may file a petition for certification with the Court to request that they hear their appeal. The Court may agree to hear an appeal because it presents legal issues of great importance to the public or because the issue is the subject of separate, conflicting appellate opinions. In deciding the cases that come before it, the Court interprets the New Jersey and the United States Constitution, New Jersey statutes, administrative regulations of the state’s governmental agencies, as well as the body of common law. The chief justice also serves as the administrative head for the court system, overseeing the management of the state’s courts.
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey is an arm of the federal district court whose jurisdiction extends to individuals and businesses who either reside in New Jersey or who have property located in New Jersey. There are 3 separate federal bankruptcy courts in New Jersey: Newark, Trenton, and Camden.
- In Newark, the Bankruptcy Court is located at the Martin Luther King, Jr. U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building, 3rd Floor, 50 Walnut Street, Newark, New Jersey 07102.
- In Trenton, the Bankruptcy Court is located at the Clarkson S. Fisher Building and U.S. Courthouse, 402 E. State Street, Trenton, New Jersey 08608.
- In Camden, the Bankruptcy Court is located at the Mitchell H. Cohen Building and U.S. Courthouse , 401 Market Street, Camden, New Jersey 08101.
The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey is the federal district court whose jurisdiction is the state of New Jersey. In civil matters, the District Court has jurisdiction over disputes of $75,000 or more, or when there are citizens of different states where one has a nexus to New Jersey.
The District of New Jersey is divided into three vicinages: Newark, Trenton and Camden.
- In Newark, the Court operates from two courthouses: The “old” courthouse is the United States Post Office and Court House at One Federal Square. Across Walnut Street is the “new” courthouse—Martin Luther King, Jr. U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building (50 Walnut Street). The Newark Vicinage’s clerk’s office is located in the Martin Luther King building.
- In Trenton, the Court operates from the Clarkson S. Fisher Building and U.S. Courthouse (402 East State Street).
- In Camden, the Court is located at the Mitchell H. Cohen Building and U.S. Courthouse (4th and Cooper Streets).
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters decided by the District Courts for the following districts:
- District of Delaware
- District of New Jersey
- Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Middle District of Pennsylvania
- Western District of Pennsylvania
It also has appellate jurisdiction over the District Court of the Virgin Islands.