Another Reason to Mediate Your Dispute or Divorce

This week, a committee of the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a report recommending that the court’s records be made accessible to the public through the internet. The report’s executive summary reads in part:

In drafting the proposed rule, the Committee accepted as a bedrock principle the need to preserve New Jersey’s strong tradition favoring public access. Accordingly, the rule begins with the presumption that all court and administrative records are available for inspection unless otherwise exempted. This approach is a significant departure from the current version of Rule 1:38, which narrowly defines court records as only those that are “required by statute or rule to be made, maintained, or kept on file” in the course of the court’s official business. The current version of Rule 1:38 does not specifically address the broad category of administrative records. The proposed rule is intended to replace the common law “balancing of interests” test with an absolute right of access to all non-exempt court and administrative records.

What does this mean for you? In practical terms, it means that almost anything that is filed with the court (motions, pleadings, hearing records, admissions at trial) will be made public via the internet with these details and exceptions:

Most of these records are currently available to the public, but to access them now, you have to go down to the courthouse and request them. If you want copies, there is a schedule of costs ranging from $0.75 per page to $0.25 per page depending on how much you’re copying. Access to these records will probably be free to the public on the web.

The report is quite detailed and covers a lot more than I have in this space. The court will be taking comments on the proposed rule through March 24, 2008.

Mediation is a confidential process protected both by court rule and state statue (the NJ Uniform Mediation Act). By mediating a divorce, family or commercial dispute or other conflicts you can keep your personal information out of public view. To find out more about mediation, please feel free to contact me.

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Marvin Schuldiner :