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Letter to the OAL Community

A MESSAGE TO THE OAL COMMUNITY

August 31, 2020 Update

            As August draws to a close, this message will update you on the work of the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).  As directed by Governor Murphy, our OAL staff and judges are doing their part to “flatten the curve” by continuing to work remotely. Our priority is, and will remain, the health and well-being of our entire OAL community.  

            When I first alerted you in March that we would be working remotely, never did I anticipate that close to six months later, New Jersey and our nation would still be battling this unprecedented pandemic.  The pandemic has challenged us to learn new ways of working; to be innovative in solving problems; and to embrace technology to get the job done.

            The OAL is continuing to meet these challenges every day.  We are conducting plenary hearings and settlement conferences via Zoom with increasing frequency. We have purchased additional Zoom licenses to respond to the increased desire and willingness by parties to proceed to hearing in this fashion. Our IT team ably supports our efforts, and quickly resolves any technological issues that may arise. Zoom hearings can and do work.

As we approach the Fall months, the OAL community should anticipate that our hearings will continue to proceed exclusively via remote technology.  This crisis is continually evolving, and we will alert you to any changes.  But for now, if you have a case scheduled in the coming months, please expect to hear from your assigned judge or his or her assistant to discuss proceeding via Zoom. And in priority cases, the judge may direct that your case proceed via remote technology.

            We will likewise continue to hear emergent matters either via telephone or Zoom. Our judges will continue to seek your participation in telephonic status conferences or oral arguments.

            If you have any concerns about the status of your pending case, do not hesitate to reach out to the judge’s administrative assistant, or to our clerks, Susan Rogers (Newark) (susan.rogers@oal.nj.gov) and Leslie Sklar (Quakerbridge) (leslie.sklar@oal.nj.gov). Email is the best way to communicate with us during this crisis, but our staff are coming into the offices to check snail mail as well.

            On behalf of everyone at the OAL, we thank you for your patience and for joining in our efforts to battle COVID-19. Stay safe and well.

 

July 30, 2020 Update

            As July draws to a close, this message will update you on the work of the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).  As directed by Governor Murphy, our OAL staff and judges are doing their part to “flatten the curve” by continuing to work remotely. Our priority is, and will remain, the health and well-being of our entire OAL community.  

            Regrettably, due to COVID-19, we do not anticipate being able to conduct in-person plenary hearings during the month of August. If you have a case scheduled in August, please expect to hear from your assigned judge or his or her assistant to discuss the next steps, which may include a conversation about proceeding via a remote hearing platform, such as Zoom. We have been using Zoom successfully for both hearings and settlement conferences. In certain priority cases, the judge may direct that your case proceed via Zoom. And we anticipate continuing to rely heavily on remote technology during the coming months.

            We will likewise continue to hear emergent matters either via telephone or Zoom. Our judges will continue to seek your participation in telephonic status conferences or oral arguments.

            If you have any concerns about the status of your pending case, do not hesitate to reach out to the judge’s administrative assistant, or to our clerks, Susan Rogers (Newark) (susan.rogers@oal.nj.gov) and Leslie Sklar (Quakerbridge) (leslie.sklar@oal.nj.gov). We are checking email regularly.  Email is the best way to communicate with us during this crisis, but our staff are coming into the offices to check snail mail as well.

            On behalf of everyone at the OAL, know that during these unprecedented times we will continue to strive to do our best for the litigants who utilize our forum.  As this crisis evolves, we will continue to update you.

 

June 30, 2020 Update

            As June draws to a close, this message will update you on the work of the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).  As directed by Governor Murphy, our OAL staff and judges are doing their part to “flatten the curve” by continuing to work remotely. Our priority is, and will remain, the health and well-being of our entire OAL community.  

            Regrettably, due to COVID-19, we do not anticipate being able to conduct in-person plenary hearings during the month of July. If you have a case scheduled in July, please expect to hear from your assigned judge or his or her assistant to discuss next steps, which may include a conversation about proceeding via a remote hearing platform such as Zoom. We are using Zoom successfully for both hearings and settlement conferences. In certain priority cases, the judge may direct that your case proceed via Zoom.

            And we will continue to hear emergent matters either via telephone or Zoom. Our judges will continue to seek your participation in telephonic status conferences or oral arguments.

            If you have any concerns about the status of your pending case, do not hesitate to reach out to the judge’s administrative assistant, or to our clerks, Susan Rogers (Newark) (susan.rogers@oal.nj.gov) and Leslie Sklar (Quakerbridge) (leslie.sklar@oal.nj.gov). We are checking email regularly.

            On behalf of everyone at the OAL, know that during these unprecedented times we will continue to strive to do our best for the litigants who utilize our forum.  As this crisis evolves, we will continue to update you.

May 27, 2020 Update

 

            As May draws to a close, this message will update you on the work of the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).  As directed by Governor Murphy, our OAL staff and judges are doing their part to “flatten the curve” by continuing to work remotely. Our priority is, and will remain, the health and well-being of our entire OAL community.  

            Regrettably, due to COVID-19, we do not anticipate being able to conduct in-person plenary hearings during the month of June. If you have a case scheduled in June, please expect to hear from your assigned judge or his or her assistant to discuss next steps, which may include a conversation about proceeding via a remote hearing platform such as Zoom. While Zoom may not be an option for every litigant, we have been using it successfully for both hearings and settlement conferences.

            We will continue to hear emergent matters either via telephone or Zoom. Our judges will continue to seek your participation in telephonic status conferences or oral arguments.

            If you have any concerns about the status of your pending case, do not hesitate to reach out to the judge’s administrative assistant, or to our clerks, Susan Rogers (Newark) (susan.rogers@oal.nj.gov) and Leslie Sklar (Quakerbridge) (leslie.sklar@oal.nj.gov). We are checking email regularly.

            On behalf of everyone at the OAL, know that during these unprecedented times we will continue to strive to do our best for the litigants who utilize our forum.  As this crisis evolves, we will continue to update you.

 

April 21, 2020 Update

             As April draws to a close, this message will update you on the work of the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).  As directed by Governor Murphy, our OAL staff and judges are doing their part to “flatten the curve” by continuing to work remotely. My priority is and will remain the health and well-being of our entire OAL community.  

            Regrettably, due to COVID-19, we do not anticipate being able to conduct in-person plenary hearings during the month of May. If you have a case scheduled in May, please expect to hear from your assigned judge or his or her assistant to discuss next steps, which may include a conversation about proceeding via a remote hearing platform such as Zoom. While Zoom may not be an option for every litigant, we have begun to use it successfully for both hearings and settlement conferences.

            We will continue to hear emergent matters either via telephone or Zoom. Our judges will continue to seek your participation in telephonic status conferences or oral arguments.

            If you have any concerns about the status of your pending case, do not hesitate to reach out to the judge’s administrative assistant, or to our clerks, Susan Rogers (Newark) (susan.rogers@oal.nj.gov) and Leslie Sklar (Quakerbridge) (leslie.sklar@oal.nj.gov). We are checking email regularly.

            On behalf of everyone at the OAL, know that we will continue to try to address your needs during these unprecedented times.  As this crisis evolves, we will update you; hopefully soon with the good news that we are back behind our desks at our Newark, Quakerbridge and Atlantic City locations.  In the interim, we thank you for your continued support and patience.

 

 

 Original Message

The Office of Administrative Law is following the guidance of the New Jersey Department of Health, the Department of the Treasury, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as we work with the bar and our litigants to navigate our response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). For now, we are maintaining normal business operations, and our OAL hearings are proceeding as scheduled.

We are taking measures to reduce risk, including working with our landlords to ensure that appropriate cleaning measures are in place. But you can help! Please do not come to the OAL if you are ill; have any symptoms of COVID-19; or feel that your health might have been compromised by recent travel. Please contact the OAL by phone, fax or email, and request an adjournment or some other accommodation. Our staff will address your requests on a case-by-case basis, and consistent with the most up-to-date guidance from State and Federal officials.  If we learn that a visitor to the OAL, or one of our employees, has tested positive for COVID-19 we will notify the local health department and the New Jersey Department of Health and follow their guidance. 

This situation is constantly evolving. We are exploring ways to continue to do our work remotely should that become necessary, with our primary focus being emergent matters. We take our role in the justice system seriously; we are also mindful of our obligation to keep our entire OAL community healthy and safe. Thank you for your patience and cooperation during this difficult time.

 

                                                Ellen S. Bass

                                                Acting Director and Chief Administrative Law Judge