The end of the Court year in  New Jersey in June 30th.  With that will come pressure, perhaps unnatural pressure, but pressure nontheless to resolve cases. 

While the fact that there are judicial shortages in many counties may provide relief, I suspect that it will do little to quell this rite of Spring.

As the legal system is very statistically driven, a court’s performance is often measured in how many cases they clear, and more particularly, whether there is backlog (i.e. is the case too old for the case type that it is).  My undertanding is that a divorce case in in back log when it is over 1 year old. 

One tool that Court’s use to clear more cases this time of year is to hold "blitz weeks."  During a blitz week, the oldest cases in a county are scheduled for trial and all of the family part judges clear their calendars to allegedly try cases during these weeks.  Whether or not cases actually get tried during blitz week is another story.  However, the threat of trial, along with the court’s active assistance in trying to settle cases often clears many cases from the docket.

Also, in the cases that are naturally scheduled for trial during this time of year, adjournments become more difficult.  Regularly, multiple trials are scheduled for a judge for the same day.  The reason for this is that most cases settle or get adjourned so if only one case were scheduled, a judge could have open court time.  Often you will learn where you are on the list in terms of which is the oldest case and can get a sense as to whether the trial date is a real one.  In fact, usually the first and second trial date are not "real" dates, but rather dates when a court will try to get you to settle. 

That said, at this time of year, if you want to try to adjourn these dates, it becomes more difficult, with the hope that you will settle.  There is an old joke that goes, what is the easiest way to get an adjournment, tell the court you are ready for trial.  In reality, it works in the reverse.  That is, when you seek an adjourment of a trial date, courts often deny this expecting that it will help force a settlement. 

In my practice, if I appear for a trial date, I am prepared for trial.  I learned early on that the best way to be prepared to settle a case it to be prepared to try a case.  That way you are negotiating from a position of strength and very often, the other side really isn’t prepared for trial  – making favorable settlement terms more likely.

In any event, if your case is getting close to a year old, expect pressure from the Court to get it done before June 30th.

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