N.J. expands judicial ranks as part of criminal justice changes

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signs legislation Monday adding 29 more judges to the bench to help the state carry out criminal justice system changes. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signs legislation Monday adding 29 more judges to the bench to help the state carry out criminal justice system changes. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Gov. Chris Christie has signed legislation to add 20 new judges to New Jersey’s courts.

The additional judges are needed to support criminal justice reforms that took effect this month requiring swift action in pretrial proceedings and bringing cases to trial sooner, said state Senate President Steve Sweeney.

“This can’t fail. You know there’s a lot of people that want this to fail. You saw not too long ago some possible legislation to bring back cash bail,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester. “There is a business of poverty and preying on the poor that shouldn’t be accepted by government.”

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner will determine where the new judges will be assigned.

“With the shift of population of the last two decades there have been growth in filings in certain parts of the state so that in some vicinages even when all of the judges allotted there are filled, they still don’t have enough and this will enable us to look at where the needs exist throughout our state and respond,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved 12 judicial appointees who are expected to be confirmed by the full Senate.

Christie said that will bring the number of Superior Court justices in the state to a record high.

“Filling the excessive number of vacancies that created judicial emergencies in several counties in our state will ensure that people don’t have to wait that long to get their cases heard, to have their criminal issues resolved,” he said.

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