New Jersey Practice Outline
New Jersey has a completely unified system in the Superior Courts. The rules of Part IV in conjunction with the rules of Part I (general application) given the practice and procedure of civil actions in the Superior Court, Law and Chancery Divisions, and, except as otherwise provided in Parts VI and PART VIII, the Surrogate’s Courts and the Tax Court. R. 4:1.
There is no longer any distinction between actions at law and suits in equity, but distinctions between legal and equitable remedies continue, and the right to a trial by jury will depend upon whether the primary remedy originally sought in the matter is legal or equitable.
The division of the courts is as follows
NJ’s highest court; Composed of CJ and 6 other justices
reviews decisions of trial, tax, and municipal courts
Law Division Chancery Division
General Civil Criminal General Equity Probate Family
Small Claims Special Civil Part
(<$2k) (b/w $2k-$10k)
All civil actions in which the principal claim is unique to and arise out of a family or similar relationship must be brought in the Family Part of Chancery Division.
Actions not cognizable in Family Part, in which the primary right to relief sought is equitable or probate in nature, must be brought in Chancery Division.
All other actions brought in the Law Division.
Any final decision of above mentioned courts gets appealed as of right to the Appellate Division.
Supreme Court will only hear cases where there was a dissent in Appellate Decision (3-panel judge) or through grant of certification. The court only hears 70 cases a year (whereas the Appellate Division hears approximately 6,000-7,000 cases a year).
Lastly, in addition to above drawing, there is also agencies, tax courts, and municipal courts.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court assigns judges to vicinages and the court. Vicinage is notthe congruent with county. Each vicinage is under supervision of assignment judge.
Before we move on to the Court’s rule making power, we discussed the idea of Prerogative Writs:
· A prerogative writ, which is where a citizen attempts to force the government to do (or not to do) something (an action). However, this was abolished in the 1947 Constitution. It is now called an “action in lieu of prerogative writs.”
o However, note that an appeal from a State Agency to the Appellate Division is an “action in lieu of prerogative writs” but is called an “appeal.”
o Whereas, an appeal from local court to Law Division is called a “R. 4:69-1 Action in Lieu of Prerogative Writs.” This rules states: Actions in Superior Court, Law Division: review, hearing and relief heretofore available by prerogative writs and not available under R. 2:2-3 or R. 8:2 shall be afforded by an action in the Law Division, Civil Part, of the Superior Court. The complaint shall bear the designation “In Lieu of Prerogative Writs”.
The Court’s Rule Making Power
The judicial article of the new constitution, N.J. Const. Art. VI, § II, ¶ 3 (effective September 15, 1948), vests a general rule-making power in the Supreme Court in these terms:
The Supreme Court shall make rules governing the administration of all courts in the State and, subject to law, the practice and procedure in all such courts.
It is the phrase “subject to law” that has become confusing to interpret. “Subject to law” means only substantive law (legislature) . . . not procedural, which is up to the Supreme Court to promulgate.
Rule 1:1-2. Construction and Relaxation (p. 27)
The rules in Part I through Part VIII, inclusive, shall be construed to:
(1) secure a just determination;
(2) simplicity in procedure;
(3) fairness in administration; and
(4) the elimination of unjustifiable expense and delay.
Unless otherwise stated (i.e. – timing rules such as SOL), any rule may be relaxed or dispensed with by the court in which the action is pending if adherence to it would result in an injustice. In the absence of rule, the court may proceed in any manner compatible with these purposes and, in civil cases, consistent with the case management/trial management guidelines set forth in Appendix XX of these rules.
NOTES: for example, where a defendant’s noncompliance with the rules of discovery induces a plaintiff incorrectly to discontinue the fictitious party designation required by R. 4:26-4, justice demands that R. 4:26-4 be relaxed so that an amended complaint related back to the original complaint may be filed. Also, further note that the standard = “good cause” for a court to analyze when deciding to relax or dispense with any rule.
Santos v. Estate of Santos
Rule: Court’s exist for the sole purpose of rendering justice according to the law. No eagerness to expedite business shall interfere with the court’s high duty of administering justice.
Montiel v. Ingersoll
Rule: Court will not relax rules where the court finds that there was a lack of diligence.
Rule 1:3-4. Enlargement of Time (p. 48)
(a) Enlargement by Order or Consent. Unless otherwise expressly provided by rule, a period of time thereby fixed for the doing of an act may be enlarged before or after its expiration by court order on notice or (unless a court has otherwise ordered) by consent of the parties in writing.
(b) Enlargement for Appeal and Review. Enlargement of time for appeal and review shall be governed by the following rules: appeals to the Supreme Court and Superior Court, Appellate Division, by R. 2:4-4; actions in lieu of prerogative writs in the Superior Court, Law Division, by R. 4:69-6(c); appeals to the Superior Court, Law Division from reports of condemnation commissioners, by R. 4:73-6(a); civil appeals to the Superior Court, Law Division, by R. 4:74-2(b); and review of ex parte probate actions, by R. 4:85-2.
(c) Enlargements Prohibited. Neither the parties nor the court may, however, enlarge the time specified by R. 1:7-4 (motion for amendment of findings); R. 3:18-2 (motion for judgment of acquittal after discharge of jury); R. 3:20-2, R. 4:49-1(b) and (c) and R. 7:10-1 (motion for new trial); R. 3:21-9 (motion in arrest of judgment); R. 3:21-10(a); R. 3:23-2 (appeals to the Law Division from judgments of conviction in courts of limited criminal jurisdiction); R. 3:24 (appeals to the Law Division from interlocutory orders and orders dismissing the complaint entered by courts of limited criminal jurisdiction); R. 4:40-2(b) (renewal of motion for judgment); R. 4:49-2 (motion to alter or amend a judgment); and R. 4:50-2 (motion for relief from judgment or order).
· Specifically excludes certain rules and periods of time from being enlarged by court order or consent.
· Note further that extension orders should not ordinarily by granted ex parte.
· The court cannot extend the time to endorse the notice of the commencement of an action upon a lien claim, or to file a lien claim.
Rule 4:3-1. Divisions; Venue; Transfer of Actions (p. 1066)
4:3-1. Divisions of Court; Commencement and Transfer of Actions
(a) Where Instituted.
(1) Chancery Division –General Equity. Actions in which the plaintiff’s primary right or the principal relief sought is equitable in nature, except as otherwise provided by subparagraphs (2) and (3), shall be brought in the Chancery Division, General Equity, even though legal relief is demanded in addition or alternative to equitable relief.
(2) Chancery Division—Probate Part. All actions brought pursuant to R. 4:83 et seq.
(3) Chancery Division—Family Part. All civil actions in which the principal claim is unique to and arises out of a family or family-type relationship shall be brought in the Chancery Division, Family Part, Civil family actions cognizable in the Family Part shall include all actions and proceedings provided for in of Part V of these rules; all civil actions and proceedings formerly cognizable in the juvenile and domestic relations court; and all other actions and proceedings unique to and arising out of a family or family-type relationship.
(4) Law Division. All actions in the Superior Court except those encompassed by subparagraphs (1), (2), and (3) thereof shall be brought in the Law Division or the Law Division, Special Part.
(b) Transfer Between Law and Chancery Division. A motion to transfer an action from one trial division of the Superior Court or part thereof to another, except those actions governed by Part VI of these rules, shall be made within 10 days after expiration of the times prescribed by R. 4:6-1 for the service of the last permissible responsive pleading or, if the action is brought pursuant to R. 4:67 (summary actions), on or before the return date if the action is pending in the Law Division. Unless so made, objections to the trial of the action in the division specified in the complaint are waived, but the court on its own motion may thereafter order such transfer. Actions transferred shall not be retransferred. The order of transfer shall be filed in triplicate.
4:3-2. Venue in Superior Court
(a) Where Laid. Venue shall be laid by plaintiff in Superior Court as follows:
(1) Actions affecting title to real property or a possessory or other interest therein, or for damages thereto, or appeals from assessments for improvements, in the county in which any affected property is situate
(2) Actions not affecting real property which are brought by or against municipal corporations, counties, public agencies or officials, in the county in which the cause of action arose
(3) Except as otherwise provided by R. 4:44A-1 (structured settlements), R. 4:35-2 (receivership actions), R. 4:60-2 (attachments), R. 5:2-1 (Special Civil Part actions), the venue in all other actions in the Superior Court shall be laid in the county in which the cause of action arose, or in which any party to the action resides at the time of its commencement, or in which the summons was served on a nonresident defendant; and (4) actions on and objections to certificates of debt for motor vehicle surcharges that have been docketed as judgments by the Superior Court Clerk pursuant to N.J.S.A. 17:29A-35 shall be brought in the county of residence of the judgment debtor
(b) Corporate Parties. A corporation is deemed to reside in the county in which its registered office is located or in any county in which it actually does business.
(c) Exceptions in Multicounty Vicinages. With approval of the Chief justice, the assignment judge of any multicounty vicinage may order that in lieu of laying venue in the county of the vicinage as provided by these rules, venue in any designate
direct result of the violation or both.
o Consider timeliness of the movant’s filing of the motion therefore.
– (e) Exceptions. This rule does not apply to disclosures and discovery requests, responses, objections, and discovery motions that are subject to the provisions of R. 4:23.
– (f) Applicability to Parties. To the extent practicable, the procedures prescribed by this rule shall apply to the assertion of costs and fees against party other than a pro se party pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:15-59.1.
Except as otherwise provided by law, costs may be allowed or disallowed in the discretion of the court to any party in any action, motion, appeal or proceeding, whether or not he be successful therein; and where allowed, they may be taxed according to law.
FRCP 11.Signing Pleadings, Motions, and Other Papers; Representations to the Court; Sanctions
Every pleading, written motion, and other paper must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney’s name — or by a party personally if the party is unrepresented. The paper must state the signer’s address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Unless a rule or statute specifically states otherwise, a pleading need not be verified or accompanied by an affidavit. The court must strike an unsigned paper unless the omission is promptly corrected after being called to the attorney’s or party’s attention.
(b) Representations to the Court.
By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper — whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it — an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances:
(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation;
(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law;
(3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and
(4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based on belief or a lack of information.
(1) In General.
If, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that Rule 11(b) has been violated, the court may impose an appropriate sanction on any attorney, law firm, or party that violated the rule or is responsible for the violation. Absent exceptional circumstances, a law firm must be held jointly responsible for a violation committed by its partner, associate, or employee.
(2) Motion for Sanctions.
A motion for sanctions must be made separately from any other motion and must describe the specific conduct that allegedly violates Rule 11(b). The motion must be served under Rule 5, but it must not be filed or be presented to the court if the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, or denial is withdrawn or appropriately corrected within 21 days after service or within another time the court sets. If warranted, the court may award to the prevailing party the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, incurred for the motion.
(3) On the Court’s Initiative.
On its own, the court may order an attorney, law firm, or party to show cause why conduct specifically described in the order has not violated Rule 11(b).
(4) Nature of a Sanction.
A sanction imposed under this rule must be limited to what suffices to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated. The sanction may include nonmonetary directives; an order to pay a penalty into court; or, if imposed on motion and warranted for effective deterrence, an order directing payment to the movant of part or all of the reasonable attorney’s fees and other expenses directly resulting from the violation.
(5) Limitations on Monetary Sanctions.
The court must not impose a monetary sanction:
(A) against a represented party for violating Rule 11(b)(2); or