Matawan Abolishes Municipal Court, Creates Regional One with Hazlet, Keyport
The Matawan Council voted tonight to enter a shared services agreement with Hazlet and Keyport
The Matawan Borough Council voted unanimously to approve a regional court system with Hazlet and Keyport at their regular action meeting Tuesday night.
The ordinance, which has already been passed in Hazlet and Keyport, establishes the Joint Municipal Court of Hazlet, Keyport and Matawan.
It also eliminates each municipality's individual court, including the Municipal Court of the Borough of Matawan. Starting Jan. 1, 2012, any summonses, municipal court matters, or pending cases from all three municipalities will be processed by the Joint Municipal Court.
The Municipal Court of the Borough of Matawan is currently held in a room inside of the Matawan Borough Police Department building on Main Street.
According to a mutual written agreement between the municipalities, Matawan would be responsible for 22.46 percent of the total cost.
Pasquale Menna, the borough's attorney, said that according to a study done, the joint court would save the borough between $100,000 and $110,000 per year, after subtracting the approximately $42,000 a year in total cost.
According to Menna, if Matawan did not opt to enter into a regional court system, they would have to renovate the Matawan Municipal Community Center to meet federal standards set by the Supreme Court.
According to an article in the Independent in Oct. of 2007, the borough conducted a study to evaluate the cost to renovate the municipal community center to host a courtroom. The renovations were estimated to cost approximately $221,000, and the borough decided to look for other, less expensive options according to the article.
In addition to the high cost, Mayor Paul Buccellato - then a councilman - noted that even with renovations, having the courtroom in the community center is a poor design because there is no specific room designated for holding prisoners, according to the article.
There are no plans yet for the room that will be vacated when the regional court is created, according to Buccellato. He said it is likely that the Police Department will utilize the space.
Dennis Brady, a Matawan resident, expressed concern at the meeting that having the court moved to Hazlet would be a burden on Matawan police officers and taxpayers.
"I would like somebody to monitor overtime, somebody to monitor service to the community and somebody to monitor how often we call for help from Aberdeen," Brady said.
However, according to Councilwoman Toni Angelini, court would be held only once or twice a month which would limit the amount of time an officer is out of the Matawan area while on duty.
Buccellato said these concerns have been studied and addressed. Additionally, the video capabilities available in Hazlet will allow prisoners go before a judge without having to be transported from Freehold to Matawan, Buccellato said.
The Municipal Court of Matawan will cease function as of Dec. 31, and the Joint Municipal Court of Hazlet, Keyport and Matawan will officially start Jan. 1, 2012.