There are currently 11 vacancies in the Essex County court, which Governor Christie said he won’t fill until his pick for education commissioner is confirmed. Sen. Ron Rice has used senatorial courtesy to block the appointment of Christopher Cerf, who Christie nominated a year ago. Some have said the two issues are unrelated and that the governor needs to fill the slots so the backlog of court cases doesn’t become huge. Currently, about 150 civil cases and 250 family court cases have been suspended with no reschedule date set.
Nancy Erika Smith, a partner for Smith & Mullin, called the governor’s actions “outrageous,” pointing out that Cerf is serving as acting education commissioner which allows that department to function as it should. That’s not the case with the courts, according to Smith. She said the number of judicial vacancies will affect all cases going forward because of the backlog that’s being created. NJToday’s David Cruz files this report from Newark.