The Superior Court of New Jersey Essex Vicinage is the largest in New
Jersey, fifth largest in the United States, and one of the largest in
the world. With more than 1,000 employees, thousands of cases and more
than 180,000 jurors called for service annually, the court is also one
of the busiest in the world. Keeping the wheels of justice moving in
Essex County is a non-stop job, and the two men at the helm are
graduates of Seton Hall’s Masters in Public Administration program.
Collins E. Ijoma, M.P.A. ’83
Giuseppe M. Fazari ’96, M.P.A. ’98, Ph. D. ‘03
Trial Court Administrator Collins E. Ijoma, M.P.A. '83 and Assistant
Trial Court Administrator Giuseppe M. Fazari '96, M.P.A. '98, Ph. D. '03
oversee daily operations in the massive system. Their main job? "To
help the entire system run efficiently," says Ijoma, a native of Nigeria
who came to the United States in 1976.
Ijoma's career in court administration spans nearly 30 years. As
trial court administrator he oversees the management of a variety of
areas that include facilities management, caseflow management, intake,
security, production management, jury management and human resources,
and a budget in excess of $50 million.
Ijoma likens the court system to that of a hospital, "the judges in
the court are similar to the doctors in a hospital, and we’ve got to
make sure that they maintain independence while having the ability to do
their jobs without interruption."
Fazari joined the New Jersey Judiciary in 2004, and has served as an
assistant criminal division manager and jury manager, prior to his
current role as assistant trial court administrator, where he is
responsible for overseeing the daily operations in a variety of the
areas within the court system. He was born shortly after his parents
immigrated to the United States from Italy and, like Ijoma, learned
English as a second language.
"I think for both of us to come from such different backgrounds, from
such different places in the world, and to end up working together in
Essex County after having come through the same program at Seton Hall at
different times is pretty amazing in and of itself," says Fazari.
What's clear when sitting down and speaking with these two proud
Pirates is their devotion to the justice system. One phrase Fazari
repeats: "it's humbling to be a part of this cornerstone of democracy."
Both men speak passionately of justice and its importance in American
society. "The judiciary," as Ijoma puts it, "stands between
civilization and anarchy." He also says that he thinks regularly of
Federalist Paper number 17, an essay by Alexander Hamilton in which he
discusses the importance of the role of the state in administering "criminal and civil justice." The thing that separates the United States
from so many other places, according to Ijoma, is our system of
justice. The system, he says, is second to none.
Governments from around the world would seem to agree, as they
regularly send representatives to visit the court complex in Newark to
observe and learn from the systems that Ijoma and Fazari have put into
Of particular interest is the Office of the Ombudsman, a position
created by Ijoma in response to a need for a neutral party to take a
role in assisting those involved in legal proceedings to navigate the
court system. "People were coming here and they didn't know what to do,"
he recalls, "we needed a central place for them to go for help." As
described on the court's website, the Ombudsman provides a bridge
between the courts and the community to enhance public access and
improve customer service. Staff members answer questions about all areas
of the court system and provide additional assistance to court users
who may not understand the status of their court case.
If the court is like a hospital, the Ombudsman is the I.C.U. and Ijoma and Fazari its chief administrators.
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