Researching Public Law and Public Policy in the Public Interest

Municipal Contradictions: How to Provide an Equitable Municipal Court Experience

2014-2015 Equity + Opportunity Studies Fellow, Center on Law in Metropolitan Equity 

ABSTRACT: Municipal court cases account for the bulk of all legal filings and are often the only interaction that many people have with the judicial system, yet there is a significant lack of research on the impact of municipal courts on our daily lives.  The municipal court experience is often the formative factor in developing an individual’s perception of the judicial system.  Quite often, our poorest residents have to shoulder the burden of frequenting the most ineffective and busiest municipal courts in the state.  Part I of the paper provides an introduction to the municipal court system in New Jersey and the role that they play in regulating the daily lives of New Jersey residents. Part II is an examination of two neighboring municipal courts. Part III consists of an analysis of how the judiciary defines the role of municipal courts in society. Part IV is an evaluation of current judicial reforms and whether these reforms are tailored to address the problems which plague municipal courts. This paper will conclude with recommendations for municipal court reform.

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