October 25, 2011
Re: New AOC rules regarding municipal administrator vacancies
As you are probably aware, on September 13, 2011, the New Jersey State Supreme Court adopted amendments to the Rules of Court. Several municipal leaders have voiced strong opposition to these rules, specifically R. 1:34-3, which deals with the hiring process for municipal court administrators.
This rule would alter the current process by allowing the Assignment Judge of the vicinage the discretion to review resumes of the candidates for municipal court administrator. In addition, a panel consisting of the municipal court judge, the municipal division manager for the vicinage, a municipal court administrator from another town in the vicinage, and two representatives from the municipality who are not members of the police department interview the candidates. Finally, the Assignment Judge has the discretion to interview the final candidate for the position of municipal court administrator, and has the authority to approve or reject the selected candidate.
In the past, hiring decisions of municipal court administrators was the province of the municipal governing body. This change now gives final hiring authority to the Assignment Judge of the vicinage. The League views this as a usurpation of the authority of the municipality to make its own hiring decisions and the diminution of the municipal role in the process. The majority of the decision makers in this new rule would likely have little or no connection to the municipality in question, and would not have an understanding of the unique issues they may face.
Mayor Eldridge Hawkins of Orange Township, Mayor Wayne Smith of Irvington, and Mayor Daniel J. Reiman of Carteret will introduce a resolution at this year’s League Conference opposing this new rule and asking the Legislature to act.
Mayor Smith, who is also President of the Urban Mayors’ Association, and Mayor Hawkins, Chairman of the League’s Management Reforms Committee, will also be forming the League’s Judiciary Infringement Task Force to study the potential impact of the rule and develop a legislative strategy for the upcoming session.
Pending favorable action by our Resolutions Committee, please consider supporting this resolution at our Annual Business Meeting at the upcoming Conference. Further, if you believe this rule would have a negative impact on your town, consider serving on Mayors Smith and Hawkins’ committee.
If you have any questions, or have an interest in serving, please contact League Staff Attorney Matthew Weng at 609-695-3481 ext 137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.