Appellate Division Statistics for the 2022-23 Term

Last night’s NJSBA Appellate Practice Committee meeting included a report on the Appellate Division’s statistics for the 2022-23 Term. Though key metrics remained largely the same as in other years, the number of appeals added declined by 1%, and the number of motions for leave to appeal was down by a surprising 9.5%.

The Appellate Division saw 4,094 appeals added or reinstated. That was slightly higher than the number of appeals disposed of, which was 3,950.

As to motions for leave to appeal, 747 such motions were filed. Of those, 216, or 29% were granted. As in the past, the percentage of motions for leave to appeal granted in criminal matters was higher than that for such motions in civil appeals. Nearly half, or 47%, of all motions for leave to appeal in criminal cases were granted, while the Appellate Division granted only 22% of such motions in civil matters.

The overall affirmance and reversal rates in the Appellate Division is roughly constant from Term to Term. The 2022-23 Term was within that settled range. Overall, 82% of appeals resulted in affirmances, while only 14% produced reversals. Affirmances in part/reversals in part (1%), and “other” results (3%), accounted for the remaining 4%.

Civil cases saw a slightly lower affirmance rate than criminal appeals, with 77% of civil appeals and 87% of criminal matters resulting in affirmances. The reversal rates for civil and criminal cases were, respectively, 17% and 11%.

Again as in the past, affirmances in cases decided by two-judge panel were higher than the rate for three-judge panels. That is likely because more complex cases are more likely to result in reversals, and complex matters normally go before three-judge panels.

To break the numbers down further, 80% of civil appeals decided by two-judge panels produced affirmances, while 90% of two-judge criminal matters resulted in affirmances. For three-judge panels, 69% of civil appeals and 68% of criminal cases ended with affirmances. Reversal rates were as follows: two-judge panels- civil: 15%; criminal- 8%; three-judge panels- civil: 23%; criminal- 28%.

In terms of cases argued orally versus those submitted without argument, roughly one-third (777) of all appeals entailed oral argument. Of those, 547, or 70% produced affirmances, while 179, or 23% led to reversals. For the 1,538 submitted cases, 1,342, or 87%, resulted in affirmances, with 152, or 10%, ending with reversals. Again, more complex cases are more likely to be argued orally, which may explain the higher reversal rate in such appeals.

Finally, the Appellate Division stayed current on motions. A total of 7,069 motions (4,843 civil and 2,226 criminal) were filed, while 7,095 (4,965 civil and 2,130 criminal) were decided.

All this shows how extraordinarily busy the Appellate Division is.