BOT Votes to Move Forward with Court Merger
Authorization will be sought from the assignment judge of the vicinage and the Administrative Office of the Courts to merge South Orange's municipal court and violations bureau with Maplewood's.
The Board of Trustees passed a resolution Wednesday night to move forward with negotiations to merge South Orange's municipal court and violations bureau with Maplewood's, which would free up a much-needed 2,000 square feet of space in the police department, according to the Village President. The resolution also encompassed seeking authorization for the merger from the assigning judge of the vicinage and the state Administrative Office of the Courts.
Under the current proposal, which has been discussed between the towns since January 2008, South Orange would house its court and violations bureau in Maplewood's police and court building on Springfield Avenue. Each municipality would have its own judge, prosecutor and public defender.
"There's a consensus that we feel the facility could handle the court sessions of both municipalities," said Village President Douglas Newman, noting that South Orange has three half-day court sessions scheduled each week, and Maplewood has a lighter schedule over the course of a month.
In terms of the function of the violations bureau, each town would maintain its own docket and filings, and revenue would continue to be distributed to each municipality based on those filings. But the consolidation would create redundancies, and since Maplewood is the lead agency in the merger, it would fall to South Orange to lay off some of its violations bureau staff and court administrator, according to Trustee Howard Levison, chair of South Orange's shared services committee.
Levison noted that the union has been informed, and a provision of the current proposal is that South Orange staff would be first on a list of candidates to be hired back if positions opened in the new violations bureau.