Appellate Division Statistics, 2015-16

At last week’s NJSBA Appellate Practice Committee meeting, which featured a talk about ethics in appellate practice, statistics for the 2015-16 Appellate Division term were presented.  Those statistics are generally similar from term to term, as can be seen (for example) here.  The just-concluded term continues that pattern.

The Appellate Division added a total of 5,762 appeals last term, of which 3,821 were civil appeals and 1,806 were criminal appeals.  (The remainder were reinstated appeals of one sort or another).  The court actually cleared more appeals than it added, disposing of 5,973 appeals last term, 3,746 civil appeals and 2,227 criminal appeals.

The Appellate Division was similarly efficient regarding motions.  A total of 9,708 motions, 6,534 in civil cases and 3,174 in criminal matters, were filed.  The court disposed of 6,614 motions in civil appeals and 3,173 motions in criminal appeals, for a total of 9,787 motions decided.  There were 523 motions for leave to appeal in civil cases, of which 89, or 17%, were granted.  In criminal appeals, 177 motions for leave to appeal were filed, with 55 such motions being granted, a percentage of 31%.

As in the past, merits decisions by three-judge appellate panels were affirmed slightly less often than such decisions by two-judge panels.  In civil appeals, 74% of decisions by two-judge panels were classified as affirmances, compared with 69% of three-judge civil rulings.  The difference was somewhat greater in criminal appeals, where two-judge panels affirmed 86% of the time, while three-judge panels affirmed in 71% of their decisions.

The figures for reversal are comparable, with 16% of civil two-judge decisions resulting in reversal versus 17% of three-judge civil rulings.  In criminal cases, 9% of two-judge decisions and 18% of three-judge opinions resulted in reversal.  The remaining cases, a small percentage in each instance, wound up affirming in part and reversing in part, modifying a trial level decision, or taking some other action.