Paul M. da Costa Quoted in NJLJ Article, "Catch 22: The Judge Shortage Causes Mediation to Spike - Which Lures Judges Away."
As published in the New Jersey Law Journal, October 10, 2023
By Charles Toutant
In New Jersey’s Bergen County, where a quarter of all trial court judgeships is vacant, litigators have come to view the situation with frustration, stoicism and praise for the job the remaining judges are doing.
Bergen County, with nearly 1 million residents, is the state’s most populous county. It has 38 authorized judgeships, after the three Appellate Division judges from Bergen are subtracted from the gross allotment count of 41.
Of those 38 seats, nine are currently vacant—down from 10 at the beginning of the year.
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‘The Ones That Suffer’
For Paul da Costa, who represents plaintiffs in several medical malpractice cases pending in Bergen County, that means his clients are facing long waits for their cases to be resolved.
Although courts in a few New Jersey counties are trying medical malpractice cases, in Bergen county there’s “really no reasonable expectation by medical malpractice attorneys that we will be able to get a jury trial this calendar year” said daCosta, who is with Snyder Sarno D’Aniello Maceri & daCosta in Roseland.
“The clients are absolutely the ones that suffer, and it’s a hard pill for them to swallow. But they literally have no other option,” he said. “I would say that if things don’t change in 2024, I envision the plaintiff’s medical malpractice bar is going to get much more vocal and active, and not just sit back crossing our fingers and hoping somebody’s going to actually step up to the plate and do what they’re supposed to.”
Others are not hit as hard by the judge shortage.
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