Author New Jersey. Court of Sessions (Monmouth County
Title Minutes, 1667-1948
Physical Details 84 volumes

Forms part of the repository's County Clerk's Office subgroup. New Jersey state courts of sessions established in Monmouth and 3 other counties in 1682; held quarterly, chiefly dealing in criminal cases; also known as Court of General Quarter Sessions. Minute books, including "scratch minutes" which overlap with the official minute books and minutes for the Court of Oyer and Terminer and Juvenile Court. Entries generally include the plea of the defendant, record of trial if held, including verdict and, if guilty, sentence, and amount of bail. Minutes before 1856 were recorded in the Court of Common Pleas minute books. Gaps exist in the records, the largest of which is 1745-1768.

Transferred to the repository by Jane G. Clayton, Monmouth County Clerk. Finding aid in the repository.

OTHER AUTHORS: New Jersey. Court of Oyer and Terminer (Monmouth County
  New Jersey. Juvenile Court (Monmouth County
  Monmouth County (N.J.). County Clerk
SUBJECTS: County Courts--New Jersey
AUTHOR: New Jersey. Court of Sessions (Monmouth County courts--New Jersey
GENRE OR FORM: Court records--New Jersey--Monmouth County

Quarter Sessions Court: Minutes

RECORD GROUP COUN3000.1
SUBGROUP County Clerk's Office
SERIES Quarter Sessions Court: Minutes
DATES 1667-1948 (with gaps)
VOLUME 84 volumes

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

SCOPE AND CONTENT

USE

I. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

The Court of General Quarter Sessions (hereafter Sessions) was established in New Jersey in 1675 and redefined as a county court in 1682. The word "Quarter" in its name stems from the practice of holding the court four times each year in each county. Until 1869, the court consisted of three justices of the peace, after which time there were a series of changes too complex to discuss here.

The primary function of the Sessions Court was to deal with criminal cases, at a higher level than the Court of Small Causes, which was presided over by one justice of the peace, and at a lower level than the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which was presided over by a Supreme Court Justice and one or more other judges. However, except for the most serious crimes, most felonies could be tried in either Oyer or Sessions. It was not unusual for individuals to be arraigned in one court (usually Oyer) and tried in the other.

As a consequence of the 1947 New Jersey Constitution, Sessions was officially abolished in 1948.

II. SCOPE AND CONTENT

These volumes consist of the minutes for the Court of General Quarter Sessions from 1667 to 1948, with gaps in the 18th and 19th centuries. Some of the volumes are labeled "Scratch Minutes" and overlap with the official minute books. Minutes for the Court of Oyer and Terminer and for Juvenile Court are included in some volumes. Available minutes for the years 1735 to 1852 were recorded in the Common Pleas minute books.

Typical entries in the minute books will include the plea of the defendant and, if the defendant pleaded not guilty, a record of the trial. The trial record includes the names of the jury, the witnesses, and the attorneys. Testimony of witnesses is not recorded. If the defendant is found guilty, the minutes include a record of the sentence. Records of recognizances issued (bail) are also recorded.

III. USE

The minute books were written chronologically and do not contain any indexes. Indexes to the books are planned; check with Archives staff for availability.

Although the minute books are an important court record, researchers should use them in conjunction with other archival records. For many cases, the archives also holds complaints, warrants, indictments, grand jury lists, recognizances, and other loose papers which provide more information. In addition, as previously mentioned, some criminal cases involved more than one court, and researchers may need to consult Oyer and Terminer and/or Small Causes records.

Page Last Updated: 12/14/2011 2:27:00 PM

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