The Remand Court Section of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office handles cases that have been referred from Central Judicial Processing, the Adult Trial Unit, and from the Special Investigative Units. The Essex County Remand Court was established in June 1990 to address a significant backlog in the processing and prosecution of indictable offenses. The Remand Court acts as a municipal court, handling disorderly persons cases, while retaining countywide jurisdiction. The expanded jurisdiction of the Remand Court gives the Prosecutor’s Office the option of downgrading an indictable offense to a disorderly persons charge while retaining prosecutorial responsibility.
Before the 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 a municipal court. The Assistant Prosecutors assigned to the Remand Court craft plea bargains and address victim/witness concerns, including restitution and counseling, in addition to preparing cases for trial in a speedy manner. Dispositions include probation, offense-specific treatment and counseling, fees and fines and/or jail time. Remand Court is not appropriate for more serious indictable cases or for typical municipal court cases, but for low- to mid-level criminal offenses. The court allows greater flexibility in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, improves efficiency, maintains the protection of victims’ rights as well as defendants’ rights and imposes appropriate sentences in accordance with the offenses committed.
The Remand Court is a high-volume court and designed to dispose of 200 or more cases per month, compared to the 50 cases per month in each of the post-indictment trial courts. The majority of cases calendared in Remand Court are scheduled directly from Central Judicial Processing, where all defendants are initially arraigned. The swift and certain punishment meted out in the Remand Court is reflected in a custodial sentencing rate continually in excess of 70 percent.
In 2016 the Remand Court handled 2,054 cases. Of that number 1,417 resulted in guilty pleas, 23 resulted in conditional discharge, six went to trial and the remaining 608 cases were resolved by dismissal.