The scales of justice will do their part to help balance the budget today.
Superior Courts in each county, along with the state Supreme Court, the Appellate Division, Tax Court and Administrative Office of the Courts in Trenton are all closed in the first of two furlough days for the courts.
However, those due in court today for a speeding ticket or some other local charge are urged to keep that date. The state furlough does not include municipal courts.
While affected court staffs will get a four-day weekend thanks to Memorial Day on Monday, it will mean more work for many as they play catch-up on cases that won't be heard today.
"Maybe four to five or 10 extra cases per day will be heard," said Clarence Dickerson, operations manager for Atlantic and Cape May county courts. "So the staff will work harder on those days."
Dickerson - whose two-county district includes about 470 judiciary employees - said most agree with the furloughs.
"They know the budget problems in our state and are hoping the furloughs will be enough cost savings to help avoid layoffs," he said. "Not just for themselves, but for their co-workers."
Gov. Jon S. Corzine has threatened to lay off as many as 7,000 state workers unless he gets $500 million in concessions from labor groups.
State worker unions are fighting the furloughs along with wage freezes the governor is demanding. He counters that both options are better than people losing jobs.
"The word 'furlough' has a nice ring to it, and an extra day for the Memorial Day weekend might sound great, but for the average state worker - who makes $50,000 a year and lives paycheck to paycheck - (Friday) is just a pay cut that he or she simply can't afford," said Bob Master, a spokesman for the Communications Workers of America, the largest state workers union.
The Governor's Office and Treasury and Environmental Protection departments are also among those closed today. The judiciary layoffs will also shutter county probation offices, the Child Support Call Center and all business offices where the public files court papers or makes payments to the court.
Today was also the deadline for candidates to report their May 2 to 19 campaign fundraising and spending. That has now been moved to Tuesday.
Workers at the Civil Service Commission, Homeland Security and the State Parole Board will be off without pay Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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In the meantime
The state Office of the Judiciary reminds residents that court help can be obtained online
at njcourts.com. Resources include the Self-Help Resource Center, Foreclosure Prevention Resources Center and NJMCDirect, which allows statewide tickets to be paid online.