It's Going to Cost More to Go to Court in NJ - But Don't Blame the Lawyers

$50 million a year - that is what the Christie administration is hoping to raise by increasing court fees in New Jersey.  According to the Daily Record, there hasn't been an across the board increase is court fees since 1991.  While this represents an increase of 70%, the fees are apparently going to be used to modernize (please, please, please) the court system, as well as various justice related programs.

"The money would go toward three categories of spending, including $25 million to help fund various justice-related programs in the state budget that aren’t directly part of the court system, such as the State Police laboratory, DNA testing and the Victims of Crime Compensation Office.

Another $17 million would go toward the development of a statewide digital “e-court” system, a step toward eliminating paper in the courts by requiring electronic filings and providing public access to court records, similar to the federal courts’ PACER system. One key difference between New Jersey’s plan and PACER is that the state doesn’t plan to charge the public fees for looking at digital documents."

If the increase is passed, neither the Governor nor the Legislature will determine which fees will increase by what amount.  Instead, discretion is given to our Supreme Court to determine where the increases will take place.

Curious how much it costs to run our judicial system in New Jersey?  The Daily Record prepared a historical chart, together with the interesting fact that only about 10% of the judicial branch's budget comes from court fees - the other 90% is from the state's general budget.



Only about 10 percent of the state judiciary’s budget is currently supported by court fees, with the balance coming from the general state budget. The proposed fee increase is expected to generate $52 million a year -- a increase in revenue of more than 70 percent, though the money wouldn’t fund the judiciary’s general budget. 

COURT FEES, without fee increase: JUDICIARY, state budget: 
· 2013 … $72,008,000 2013 … $672,981,000 
· 2012 … $68,667,000 2012 … $670,481,000 
· 2011 … $65,120,000 2011 … $637,503,000 
· 2010 … $71,562,000 2010 … $608,196,000 
· 2009 … $68,455,000 2009 … $609,750,000 
· 2008 … $68,764,000 2008 … $605,482,000