In Madden v. Delran, 126 N.J. 591 (1992), the Supreme Court reaffirmed the bar’s duty to represent indigent defendants without pay where the Legislature has made no provision for the Public Defender to represent defendants who are entitled to counsel. Attorneys are assigned pro bono cases through the Administrative Office of the Court’s pro bono computer system, which maintains an alphabetical list of attorneys eligible for pro bono assignment for each county.
This page provides training resources for attorneys who have been appointed to handle pro bono/Madden cases, as well as a listing of various certified organizations that provide free legal services or advocacy.
Attorneys who certify that they have performed at least 25 hours of voluntary qualifying pro bono service in New Jersey are exempt from being appointed to take a Madden v. Delran pro bono case for the following year. Rule 1:21-12. Organizations which provide qualifying service are listed in the Pro Bono Organizations Portal, below.
Retired attorneys who had a plenary New Jersey bar admission are permitted to provide pro bono legal services through authorized legal services organizations. In particular, a retired attorney who certifies to the Supreme Court that the only aspect of the attorney’s participation in legal practice is by providing qualifying pro bono service as defined by Rule 1:21-11 (a) for Legal Services of New Jersey and the associated legal regional programs, for a certified organization under Rule 1:21-11 (b), or for an organization otherwise approved by the Supreme Court, may do so pursuant to those rules.
See the Dec. 10, 2020 Notice to the Bar for details.
Attorneys may receive an exemption from Madden assignments by providing at least 25 hours of services in court-appointed adult guardianship matters. See the March 4, 2021 Notice to the bar and appended March 1, 2021 Supreme Court order for details. Attorneys seeking this exemption must submit a certification using the posted certification form.
In addition to the performance of 25 hours of certified pro bono service for a qualifying organization, attorneys may be exempt from taking Madden v. Delran cases for other reasons, such as retirement. 2021 Exemptions from Pro Bono Counsel Assignment.
Certified pro bono service providers can be found in the Pro Bono Organizations portal link below. Pro bono organizations seeking to become certified must submit an application. Certification applications may be submitted at any time during the year. Rule 1:21-11. These applications may be made by entering information into the pro bono resource portal, then printing and mailing in the completed form to Pro Bono Organizations, PO Box 037, Trenton, NJ 08625-0037.
These materials are updated periodically. Attorneys assigned pro bono cases are expected to conduct their own research on relevant issues and the most current case law.