Procedural Updates to Appellate Division Opinions and Forms

Today, the Appellate Division published a notice to the bar that was dated August 17, 2016.  That notice can be found here.  The notice advises of several procedural refinements that the Appellate Division is implementing.

Any decision that includes a concurring or dissenting opinion will now state that fact “in the attorney appearance section of the opinion.  This addition will notify readers immediately that a concurrence or dissent is attached to the opinion.”  The heading in the Appellate Division’s notice relating to this change is “NOTICE OF CONCURRENCE OR DISSENT IN PER CURIAM OPINIONS,” but the text under that heading does not appear to be limited to per curiam opinions.

The second announced change appears to be the result of the way that computerized legal research providers treat opinions that are redacted.  “Where a published opinion is a redacted version of a longer unpublished opinion, the words ‘AS REDACTED’ will appear in the ‘APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION’ stamp on the opinion.  This information will alert persons performing computer-assisted legal research who encounter a signal indicating ‘negative treatment’ that the reason may be the existence of two opinions– the redacted published one and the unredacted unpublished one.”

Next, language will be added to all unpublished opinions that states explicitly what Rule 1:36 already makes clear.  “This opinion shall not ‘constitute precedent or be binding upon any court.’  Although it is posted on the internet, this opinion is only binding on the parties in the case and its use in other cases is limited.  R. 1:36-3.”  The intent of this change is to reiterate that the appearance of an Appellate Division opinion on the internet, where all published and unpublished opinions can now be found, does not transform an unpublished opinion into a published one or “extend to the conferral of precedential value” on an unpublished opinion.

One change is being made to the form of notice of appeal.  A box for the Tax Court as the court from which an appeal is taken is being added.  “This will provide more accuracy in the Notice of Appeal and ensure that the Tax Court is notified of appeals from its orders and judgments.”

Finally, the Civil and Criminal Case Information Statements will now include language that advises appellants that “[w]hether or not an opinion is approved for publication in the official Court Reporter books, the Judiciary posts all Appellate Division decisions on the Internet.”  The goal is to make sure that appellants know that all Appellate Division opinions will be “immediately available to the public electronically.”

Given the extent to which electronic research services have replaced books in case research in many circles, some might find the reference to “official Court Reporter books” to be quaint.  But the Appellate Division has not abandoned the recognition that books still exist, which may be a comfort to those of us who still like to hold a book in our hands.