The Essex County Surrogate's Court empowers residents to make the right decisions for their families at every stage, from birth through adoptions and guardianships, to death through will validation and estate management. We touch the lives of every resident across our community. Here, we will outline the previous year’s successes and progress, as well as our goals for the upcoming year.
In 2021, we successfully relocated to new facilities in the Dr. Martin Luther King Building — Justice Complex.
In an effort to educate the community and to spread awareness of the services of the Essex County Surrogate’s Court, we hosted over 50 webinars to inform the public of our work.
For the first time ever, we partnered with Rutgers Law School to host a 2-Credit CLE workshop that outlined the nuts and bolts of adoption and provided attendees with a comprehensive overview of what to expect and common pitfalls when they take on the process.
For National Make-A-Will Month in August, we partnered with award-winning actor, star of the Matrix franchise, and star of ABC’s hit show Lost Harold Perrineau to host a webinar on will and estate planning. We were also joined by Judge Bernice Toledo, Passaic County Surrogate, and Crystal W. Edwards Esq., Principal of Porzio Bromberg & Newman P.C. to discuss the importance of making a will.
We updated our website and created the Surrogate's Corner to provide the public with important updates about our events and initiatives, messages and announcements from the Surrogate, as well as past webinars.
In October, we partnered with the City of Newark for the annual 18-mile Newark Bike Tour against Domestic Violence to raise awareness of domestic violence and funds for the Shani Baraka Women’s Center.
Essex County Surrogate Alturrick Kenney published “Foster to Adopt: How You Can Help Neglected Children Have the Bright Future They Deserve,” an op-ed in Blavity, which identifies the need for more people of color to be involved in every stage of the adoption process.
Essex County Residents Served
2021 has been one of our busiest years in recent memory. Because of our ongoing efforts to educate the public on the breadth of services that our office provides—through a variety of events, webinars, media coverage, and more—we’re proud to share that we experienced a 16% increase in our caseload, which means we’ve provided more Essex County residents with the support they need to make the right decisions for their families.
Taxpayer Dollars Saved
The Essex County Surrogate’s Court provides invaluable support services to the Essex County community at little to no cost to our taxpayers. In 2021, the revenue generated from our services covered 98% of our budget, making our office efficient, impactful, and most importantly, self-sustaining.
Starting in 2023, we will embark on the goal to digitize all public records from the 1700s to 2016. Currently, most of the court’s records are on microfiche/microfilm and books. We will digitize them in a format that will allow us to upload them to our Bluestone Database, with the ultimate goal of making them accessible online.
This project is expected to take 3 years and cost approximately $1 million. Because of the pandemic, we recognized that in the future, physical access to these records may be limited due to varying circumstances. Digitizing the records will ensure that the public can access them regardless of their physical availability. Additionally, it will account for the deterioration of the paper records from the 1700s and 1800s.