From the NJ Judiciary:
Testimony by Judge Philip S. Carchman
Acting Administrative Director of the Courts
Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee
Fiscal Year 2009
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Economic indicators tell us that by the end of this court year, case filings will reach historic highs. For example, foreclosure filings in New Jersey for the first quarter of 2008 exceeded 4,000 per month, a staggering 44 percent increase over the same period last year. This year we are on track to receive an anticipated 49,000 foreclosure filings. This is double the number we received in 2006, just two years ago. And our best estimate is that we may double this number yet again next year.
Increased foreclosure filings are a harbinger of increases elsewhere. Our special civil part filings are about to hit record highs. Families in financial trouble, when forced to decide between paying a credit card bill or the mortgage, pay the mortgage. Left unpaid, their credit card debts will reach our special civil part courts, where filings are for amounts under $15,000. We are analyzing the numbers on a monthly basis and have grave concerns. We project receiving more than 621,000 Special Civil Part cases this year, 100,000 more than last year.
We know from experience that we must be watchful of similar growth in other case types as well. Another by-product of hard economic times is displacement in people’s lives. Financial struggles tear families apart, possibly resulting in divorce, domestic violence, abuse or neglect of children or missed support payments. We may see the effects of increased financial strain in the criminal courts as well. Our court system’s challenge is great: to adequately manage and resolve cases that we project will increase overall by almost 9 percent by the end of June while at the same time reducing staff by 300 to meet our budget reduction of $27 million.