Court-fees bill takes another step forward

TRENTON – The Assembly Appropriations Committee released bill A763, which would increase court fees to support the Legal Services of New Jersey and a computerized court information system.

The N.J. State Bar Association opposes the bill, saying it is basically a “user tax on litigants.”

However, Legal Services said some 2 million state residents rely on their help. Because of state budget cuts in recent years, officials there said it has seen its budget shrink from $71.5 million a few years ago to $44 million, and its staff shrink from 720 people in 2007 to 415.

In addition to increasing various existing court filing fees, the bill would also create new filing fees.

Among the changes are:

*increasing the application fee for admission to supervisory treatment from $75 to $100,

*increase the fee for expungement applications from $30 to $100.

The bill would also provide for a fee for substance abuse testing for persons placed on probation.

The bill states that the first $20 million of revenue collected each year would be annually appropriated to the Judiciary to create and use computerized court information systems. An amount equal to $10 million of revenue would be annually appropriated to the Department of Community Affairs for Legal Services of New Jersey, the bill states.

Any revenue collected that exceeds $30 million would go to the General Fund.

Assemblyman Peter Barnes, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the courts will rely on less paper as a result of the bill.

“There’s always been a fee. That’s the way it’s been,” he said. “We’re not creating a new user tax.”

The new fees have not been determined yet, and still will be reviewed for public comment.


Court-fees bill takes another step forward