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Ask The Judge



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How does the evicition process work in New Jersey for landlords?


The eviction process in New Jersey since COVID-19 has been placed on its head. There was a moratorium in place against evictions that I think now is slowly going away. But in the event, we are talking about under normal circumstances, someone does not pay rent, which is the usual situation, you must file for eviction in the New Jersey Landlord Tenant Court. That is a part of the Special Civil Part of the New Jersey Court system. The biggest thing to understand is that this does not get you your money. This gets you possession of the property. Once the judge enters a judgment for possession, the tenant has so many days to move out. If they don’t, then you can go to the next step and have them actually evicted by the sheriff’s office who will come there sometimes and physically move their property and them out of the premises. The next step then is to sue them in court separately for the money that they owe you. As I said, that is a separate action. At that point, you have to worry about whether or not they have the money, or if it is collectible. Therefore, to do this you can go to the New Jersey Court system that gives you some forms in which to use, but because there are court appearances necessary, you may want to hire a lawyer that specializes in landlord/tenant and Special Civil Part Law. Good luck.


Is there a limit to free speech?


There is always a limit on free speech. You cannot say things that you know are deliberately false. You cannot challenge someone’s reputation. For instance, for saying things about them or accusing them of a crime they did not commit, and that is whether it is online, in publication or anywhere else. However, you have to be ready to prove it. You also have to know that the free speech defense is alive and well. You will note that former Vice Presential Candidate Sarah Palin sued the New York Times for defamation. She went to Court in New York and lost. One of the reasons may have been that she is considered to be a “public figure” and therefore, there is a whole different set of rules where you have to show malice and things of that nature. Just think about the tweets and statements that former President Donald Trump said about hundreds of people. That alone should give you some indication of how hard it may be to actually sue and succeed for such a claim for defamation or slander. However, in appropriate circumstances it is a viable claim, and you can pursue it.


Judge Michael Donio served as a New Jersey State Superior Court Judge for 20 years before retiring on July 31, 2015. He now operates a legal consulting and mediation firm on the White Horse Pike. Donio can be reached by calling (609) 481-2919. Send your questions for his columns to askthejudge@hammontongazette.com.