RECORD GROUP: COUN2300
SUBGROUP: County Clerk, Clerk of the Courts
SERIES: Circuit Court: Loose Papers
VOLUME: 84 cubic feet
SEE ALSO Circuit Court/In Equity, 1851 - 1902
By the King's ordinance of 1751, the New Jersey Colonial Supreme Court was given the power to not only try cases involving civil and criminal acts but also to try cases in Law and Equity which jurisdiction, until that point, was held by the Court of Exchequer.
In 1798, a new court, within the Supreme Court, was created through the Act Concerning the Supreme and Circuit Courts. The act stated that the Justices of the Supreme Court or at least one of them were to hold a court in each county, twice a year, hearing cases relating to equity disputes and cases involving land titles within that county. The final judgments for the cases were entered at the Supreme Court level, not at the County level. The traveling court was referred to as the "Circuit Court."
It was not until 1838 that the actual County Circuit Courts were established by an Act of Legislation which created a separate circuit court in each county. The Act again stipulated that only the Supreme Court justices or a judge specifically appointed for that purpose could preside. The Act also gave the County Circuit Court jurisdiction over their own cases and directed that all judgments and determinations were to be recorded within the County rather than at the Supreme Court level. The County Clerk was made the Clerk of the Circuit Court and charged with recording and maintaining the Circuit Court minutes and judgments.
The New Jersey Constitution of 1844 clearly defined the County Circuit Courts as a separate court distinct from the Supreme Court, trying cases at the circuits' meaning within the individual counties.
Circuit Courts were abolished under the Constitution of 1947. The functions and jurisdiction of the Circuit Courts were absorbed by the new State Supreme Court and County Superior Courts.
The 12,642 Circuit Court cases involve individuals suing each other for a variety of civil related lawsuits. The bulk of the cases relate to the defendant's failure to pay promissory notes or book accounts. Also included are cases of trespass, damages to property, breach of contracts, assault and battery damages, slander, fraud, fornication, animal cruelty and embezzlement.
The amounts of the suits range from $10.00 to $300,000. The largest amount of $300,000 involved an 1893 law suit against the Monmouth Park Race Track Association for failing to set up a lottery system for racing.
The records are organized by year and then by defendant's name within the year. Each case file includes the following information:
Name of Plaintiff
Residence of Plaintiff
Occupation of Plaintiff (not always included)
Name of Defendant
Residence of Defendant
Occupation of Defendant (not always included)
Reason for suit (promissory note, breach of contract, etc.)
Amount of suit
Amount of final judgment
Notes (brief description of case)
A database is available in the Archives.
- Clerk of the Court Records
- County Court: Appeals (Criminal), 1947-1979
- Circuit Court: In Equity, 1851–1902
- County Court: Law/Civil, 1948-1983
- District Court: Judgment Books, 1913-1961
- District Court, Special Civil, 1976-1979
- Justice of the Peace: Docket Books, 1856-1949
- Justice of the Peace: Schooley, Joseph H., 1922-1949
- New Jersey State Chancery Court
- Quarter Sessions: Minute Books, 1667-1948
- Oyer & Terminer: Books, 1856-1948
- Superior Court: Municipal Appeals, 1979-1994, 1996
- Superior Court: Recognizor Registers, 1922-1986
- Superior Court: Small Claims Division, 1980-1982
Page Last Updated: 12/14/2011 2:36:00 PM