Supreme Court Announces Rule Amendments to be Effective on September 1, 2012

The Supreme Court has approved amendments to a number of Court Rules.  The amendments take effect on September 1, 2012.  The changes to the appellate rules fall into four general categories.  A number of them are in accordance with recommendations of the Civil Practice Committee.  

First, several rules deal with appeals related to arbitration.  Rule 2:2-3(a) now provides that either an order granting or an order denying arbitration shall be deemed a final judgment for appeal purposes.  Rule 2:11-1 gives a scheduling preference to appeals from orders compelling or denying arbitration.  Previously, that rule gave a preference only to appeals on leave granted.  A new Rule 2:9-5(c) addresses a party’s right to seek a stay of an arbitration pending disposition of an appeal from an order compelling arbitration.  Finally, Rule 2:9-1(a) makes clear that “when an appeal is taken from an order compelling or denying arbitration, the trial court shall retain jurisdiction to address issues relating to claims and parties that remain in that court.”

Second, the two rules relating to supersedeas bonds, Rules 2:9-5 and 2:9-6, have been amended to provide expressly that forms of security other than a supersedeas bond may be approved.  Courts had been doing that under their inherent powers when parties had proposed alternate forms of security, but now the authority to substitute other security for a supersedeas bond has been made explicit.  Rule 2:9-5(a) has alos been amended to state that there must be notice to the proposed secured party of an application for a stay pending appeal.  Again, it had been generally understood that such notice was required, but the rule now says that expressly. 

The major change in the area of security pending appeal is the adoption of a new Rule 2:9-6(a)(2).  That section provides for criteria for trial level judges to use in determining whether “good cause exists to approve a supersedeas bond in an amount less than the full judgment together with interest and trial costs or to approve a form of security other than a supersedeas bond either in the amount of the full judgment or an amount less than the full judgment together with interest and trial costs.”  In light of this amendment, misguided efforts in the Legislature to adopt supersedeas bond legislation should be shelved, since the Supreme Court has addressed the issue.

Third, Rule 2:6-1(a)(3), a new section, provides that if an appellate record, in any type of case, is not sealed, any documents that are required to be excluded from public access pursuant to Rule 1:38-3 are to be submitted in a separate appendix marked “confidential.”

Fourth, and last, Rule 2:9-8 has been amended to change the procedure for emergent review in the Supreme Court.  The rule previously required that the Chief Justice, in accordance with a schedule to be filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court, designate for each county at least one Justice to whom emergent relief applications would be made.  The amended rule states that requests for emergent releif are to be made by contacting the Clerk’s Office, “which will handle intake and referral of the matter to a single Justice on a rotating basis or to the full Court, as appropriate.”