The Special Remand Court Section of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office handles cases that are referred to the Special Remand Court. The Essex County Special Remand Court was established in June, 1990 to address a significant backlog in processing indictable cases. The Special Remand Court acts as a municipal court, handling disorderly persons cases, while retaining County-wide jurisdiction. This gives the Prosecutor’s Office the option of downgrading an indictable offense to a disorderly persons charge while retaining prosecutorial responsibility. Before the Special Remand Court was established, all disorderly persons cases had to be referred to the municipal level. Given the high volume of cases handled in Essex County, this represents an important option, as it combines the professional resources of the County Prosecutor with the procedural speed of the municipal court. The two Assistant Prosecutors assigned to Special Remand Court can craft a plea bargain, or forward a case to trial in a speedy manner. For the most part, the disposition includes a sentence of probation and/or jail time. Remand Court is not appropriate for the most serious indictable cases, nor for the usual Municipal Court case; but for middle-level criminal situations, it allows greater flexibility in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, improves efficiency, maintains protection of defendants’ rights, and imposes appropriate sentences.
Special Remand Court is a high volume court that is intended to dispose of 200 or more cases per month, compared to the 40 cases per month in each of the post-indictment Superior trial courts. Cases are generally referred to the Special Remand Court directly from Central Judicial Processing or from the Adult Trial Unit, with some post-indictment downgrades. The swift and certain punishment meted out in the Special Remand Court is reflected in a custodial sentencing rate generally in excess of 60%.
During 2014, Assistant Prosecutors handled 2,384 defendants and 5,119 cases in Remand Court.